Commonly seen in our waterways sitting on a crag or pier, with their wings stretched out to dry before taking to the skies, is the Little Pied Cormorant, which along with the Little Black Cormorant, is the most common of the five species of cormorant seen regularly on the Gippsland Lakes.

At home, in either fresh or salt water, they’re often seen in large flocks on open waters and along the coast, especially where large numbers of fish are present.

Little Pied Cormorants have a nasal salt gland that allows them to fish in seawater and flush out the salt they swallow.

A small, black and white waterbird, with a stubby yellow bill and completely white undersides (not black ‘trousers’ like the larger Pied Cormorant, with whom it is often seen), solitary birds can also be seen on dams and creeks.

Feeding on various aquatic animals, from insects to fish, these birds are impressive carnivorous hunters, able to dive as deep and as fast as the fish they prey upon.

On inland creeks and dams, they turn to their most favoured food: yabbies. Crustaceans, insects and frogs are also on the menu.

Breeding mostly occurs in colonies in well-vegetated wetlands where they create a nest of flat sicks (usually in a tree) and then line it with green leaves.

Male birds often call and bow to a female from a nest. With clutches of three to four eggs, both adults share incubation and care of the young.

Sadly, fishing line entanglement, fishhook ingestion and destruction of their wetland habitats are an increasing problem for these birds.

BirdLife East Gippsland meet weekly for Monday morning outings. New members are always welcome. Check the Facebook page for more information.