The Sea Ravens of Rome

Cormorant on the Tevere - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’m spending a few days exploring the urban wildlife of Rome. I’m in the centre of the city, on the River Tevere, and there are birds, butterflies and rats galore.

One of my favourite birds is the Cormorant, or Sea Raven. Its scientific name is Phalacrocorax carbo. Carbo is the Latin word for charcoal. I’ve wandered down to the River in this beautiful morning light and there is just one here, drying its wings in the sun:

They are expert at preening. For birds which specialise in fishing they don’t seem to be particularly waterproof and spend an inordinate amount of time having to care for their plumage:

Cormorant on the Tevere - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

This is one of my favourite spots in the city. Here’s what I saw last time I was here:

Another one flies in to join the drying party in the middle of the river.

Cormorant on the Tevere - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I’d like to catch one swallowing a huge fish but they don’t seem to be having much luck in catching anything this morning:

Cormorant on the Tevere - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Another flies in to join them:

Cormorants have been intensively persecuted birds. They still are persecuted in England, with Natural England issuing licenses to landowners for them to be shot. Here’s my research on their serious image problem:

I found this one’s pose, with one leg up, highly amusing:

Cormorant on the Tevere - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s been a glorious morning on the River with a contrasting view of Hadrian’s Mole, the mausoleum built for Emperor Hadrian in AD138, called Castel Sant’Angelo, and a tent city for people who are homeless:

River Tevere - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

I hope the Cormorants will still be here in another two thousand years. I fear that homeless people will still be.

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