Oh how that made us young birders laugh and, to be perfectly honest, it still makes me chuckle today. We are, of course, very familiar with Cormorants as they are not only common around our coasts, but now also breed inland at our reservoirs and gravel pits. The Shag, however, is virtually absent from the whole of eastern and south-eastern England ie from Newcastle right round to the Isle of Wight, so I was therefore somewhat surprised to hear of a couple of sightings on my old stomping ground on Mersea.
Stuart and I had been on the beach by Mersea Quarters a few weeks ago and had noticed a Cormorant diving close to the shore by a moored yacht, but neither of us had taken much notice. When we got home I saw that a Shag had been reported from this area. I did go back and have a look a week later but with no luck, and went back again this week with Bill Marsh for a second attempt.
As we approached the beach I immediately looked over to the moored yacht and there, just three yards from where we had previously seen the "Cormorant", was an adult Shag diving for fish. Absolutely amazing!! The moral of this story is never take anything for granted.