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Pygmy Cormorant wandering around

On 23-24 January 1999, the first Pygmy Cormorant Microcarbo pygmaeus for the Netherlands was observed by many birdwatchers at Montfoort, Utrecht. Up to the end of 2018, five more sightings of this species were accepted by the Dutch rarities committee: on 12 June 1999 in Flevoland; on 6 May 2000 in North Brabant; from 1-26 March 2003 in Limburg (and across the border in Belgium); from 9 May-12 June 2010 in Gelderland; and on 7 May 2013 in North Holland.

The fifth Pygmy Cormorant for Belgium was a first-winter found at Auderghem, Brussels, on 12 January 2018. This bird proved to be a long-stayer 
actually, it is still there at this very moment (more than two years later). However, I believe it has also been wandering around for quite a bit, at least during the spring of 2019. Here follows my reconstruction of its journey.

In early 2019, the popular Pygmy Cormorant was frequently seen on his favourite
but somewhat difficult to watch ponds in Brussels until 18 April. Then, on 27-28 April, one turned up at Zedelgem, West Flanders. This could have been the same bird, but without good photographs there is no way to prove this. The same goes for a report on 1 May near Antwerp.

From 8-18 May, the well-known bird was observed in Brussels again, but on 1 June it showed up at Antwerp, this time giving good views to several birders who came to see it. On 3 June the same bird was photographed in the Netherlands at Hurwenen, Gelderland, and on 5-6 June many people saw it at Keent, North Brabant (seventh Dutch record). On 10 June it was back in Belgium, being photographed near Zemst, Flemish Brabant, while from 13 June onwards there were regular sightings in Brussels once more.

The reason why I believe it was the same bird? Because photographs from all these locations show a similar-looking adult bird, actively moulting two inner tail feathers (t1 and t2 on the left). Examples can be found here (note also the progress of the moult):

23 March, Brussels
17 May, Brussels
1 June, Antwerp
3 June, Hurwenen
6 June, Keent
6 June, Keent
10 June, Zemst



Pygmy Cormorant sightings in the spring of 2019  H home of the long-staying bird in Brussels; 1 Zedelgem on 27-28 April; 2 Antwerp on 1 May; 3 Antwerp on 1 June; 4 Hurwenen on 3 June; 5 Keent on 5-6 June; and 6 Zemst on 10 June.



Pygmy Cormorant at Keent on 6 June 2019 my second sighting of this species in the Netherlands, after the one at Montfoort in 1999.



Pygmy Cormorant at Auderghem, Brussels, on 25 January 2020 now at its favourite spot in Belgium.


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Published 3 February 2020