Description: I was fortunate to be able to get really close to this young fellow. He appears to have two names depending on where he is from…..
The Little Pied Cormorant, Little Shag or Kawaupaka (Microcarbo melanoleucos) is a common Australasian waterbird, found around the coasts, islands, estuaries, and inland waters of Australia, New Guinea, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, and around the islands of the south-western Pacific and the sub-Antarctic. It is a small short-billed cormorant usually black above and white below with a yellow bill and small crest, although a mostly black white-throated form predominates in New Zealand. Three subspecies are recognised. Until recently most authorities referred to this species as Phalacrocorax melanoleucus. The species is known as the Little Pied Cormorant in Australia, and as the Little Shag or by the Māori name of Kawaupaka in New Zealand. The term White-throated Shag is also reserved for the melanistic form there.
The Little Pied Cormorant is a benthic feeder, i.e. it finds its prey on the sea floor. It is a solitary feeder, normally diving in relatively shallow water, often near the shore. Dive times are short, around 15 to 20 seconds, with recovery times on the surface of 5 to 10 seconds unless prey are being swallowed. It takes a variety of fish prey but an unusually high proportion (nearly 30% by weight on average, and up to 80% in some individuals) of crustaceans. In New Zealand waters it is most often seen preying on the local flounder and other small flatfish. Eels and insect larvae are also consumed. These are brought to the surface to be swallowed: the bird will sometimes put a fish down on the surface of the water in order to re-orient it and swallow it head first. Because of this habit, they suffer some kleptoparasitism from Red-billed Gulls.