Can you iden­tify the bird we saw in the water?

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your View -

Q We moored our nar­row­boat on the Staffs and Worcs Canal just south of Kin­ver, Staffs where it crosses Wind­sor Hol­loway. I no­ticed a large bird on the side of the canal be­hind the boat. It seemed to have some dif­fi­culty flap­ping its wings but then jumped into the canal and started swim­ming. My first thought was that it was a ju­ve­nile Cor­morant but the plumage is rather light and the beak is not hooked enough. A search on the in­ter­net was not con­clu­sive so I won­der if you could please tell us what it is. Gra­ham Booth

A Stafford­shire isn’t ex­actly the sort of county that’s usu­ally as­so­ci­ated with Gan­nets, yet that’s ex­actly what this bird is. This is a ju­ve­nile, as shown by the dark, spot­ted plumage, so dif­fer­ent from the bril­liant white of the adult bird. A few of these birds seem to have been blown in­land dur­ing Septem­ber (along with a num­ber of Manx Shear­wa­ters), and un­for­tu­nately sur­vival is quite dif­fi­cult for them away from the sea. This par­tic­u­lar bird does look to be in good con­di­tion, though, so hope­fully it was able to make it back to some­where more suit­able, ei­ther un­der its own steam or per­haps with help from some res­cuers.

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