THE CORMORANT




The above article about killing cormorants so close to my present home not only made me think of discrimination, but also of the story I wrote when I was 12 years old and had visited an evil-smelling cormorant "colony" (nest site) of "aalscholvers" (cormorants) in the Rijs Forest of Gaasterland, Friesland, The Netherlands.
Below is my sketch and a segment of my tale, together with its translation: [note the precocious use of (foreign) dialogue!]





...there the accident happened: he hit his head so hard against a pointed rock that the water instantly turned bloodred. Exhausted by the loss of blood he rose to the surface. The waves washed him up on an emerging rock where he remained unconscious till a pair of hands picked him up carefully. He tried to escape and fly away, but was too weak, so he just pecked at the hands. They were the hands of a fisherman who had come here to retrieve his nets and had happened to see him lying there.
"Look, a grand cormorant," the fisherman who held Phalacro said (in French). "Kill him? No!" That was the extent of his soliloquy and he bound Phalacro's legs together with a piece of string and put him in the back of the boat. That Phalacro put up a strong resistance needs not to be said.
The fisherman sailed to port while continuing to mutter. He moored along a dock in a small cove where he put Phalacro into a burlap bag - again suffering many pecks - then climbed up and walked home to a small hut were he threw Phalacro in a shed..

Of course, I also remembered the cormorants along the shores of Cape of Good Hope and Namibia, where an industrious gent even built wooden platforms in the sea where cormorants sat and defecated, so he could harvest and sell the guano. No wonder this was a so-called "Bank Cormorant", combining my early love of birds in Holland with that of my subsequent 5 year affaire with (foreign) banking.

There still remains one other encounter to which I am much looking forward:
to see the fish-catching cormorants and their trainers/owners in Guilin about which I present the following quote:

"One of the more enduring images of southern China, must surely be the slender silhouette of the fisherman in his wide-brimmed hat, balanced on a narrow punt - made from a few strips of bamboo lashed together - with a round basket at his side for the fish, and a pair of cormorants for company, who are trained to dive into the water, catch the fish and deliver them to their master. Captured against the backdrop of the peaks of the Guilin area and reflected in the limpid waters below, this scene evokes a timelessness which the visitor to China is often seeking. Ancient buildings and buried armies are trapped in their own time warp, but here man and nature interact as they have done for millennia."

MORE LINKS:
Zuiderzeepad
Skeleton Coast Cormorants - Swakopmund Cormorant Platform
Cormorants in Guilin - Traveling Guilin - Cormorant Fishing in Guilin

BLO fecit 20060523/6 - stories