Friday, 27 August 2010

I did ask for it..

You never know what you're going to get back when you send something into cyberspace. Two years ago I posted what I thought was a fairly innocuous video on YouTube, of a cormorant on the rocks in front of the cabin. Because cormorants and shags adopt that curious coat-of-arms position when drying their wings, I titled the video 'Thunderbird of Strangford Lough' and added this description:

"The Thunderbird is one of many cross-cultural icons in Native American mythology, and is most often depicted standing tall, its beak tilted back and its wings outstretched. It is said to create storms as it flies. Clouds are drawn together by its wings, lightning is the blinking of its eyes and thunder its wingbeats. According to Northwestern legend it is two canoe-lengths from wingtip to wingtip.

Well, no-one ascribes magical powers to the humble cormorant but he does a fair impersonation of the Thunderbird.

As far as I know, cormorants are the only web-footed seabirds who don't put out their own oils to waterproof their feathers, relying instead on the sun and the breeze.

They are year-round residents of Strangford Lough and can often be seen on the island foreshore, or on mooring buoys in Ringhaddy Sound across from the cabin - wings outstretched, face to the sun.

They live on sticklebacks, sand eels and occasionally crabs (though I must admit I've never seen one with a crab), and are prodigiously efficient underwater swimmers: a curious effect when we're out in the boat is that we can appear surrounded by feeding cormorants, when in fact there are just two or three birds who happen to be very busy.

This short video was taken on the afternoon of Monday 8th September 2008 on the Islandmore foreshore."

If you would like to see the video click here. Of the six I've posted on YouTube, it has attracted by far the most attention - not from wildlife enthusiasts or bird watchers, but from people who search the internet for the supernatural or the unexplained, and who watch videos with titles like 'Large Flying Creature in Hamburg' or 'Weird ass huge bird'. It has been viewed 4117 times, compared to a perfectly respectable 1,556 for the Blue Cabin video.

Here are some of the comments to my Thunderbird video:

"Thats a seagull! thunderbirds are bigger and they have diffrent beakes."

"people see wing or a beak or a foot somewhere or flashing eye or wind from wings but we never see no thunderbird"

"Thunder birds are not real any more!
Theres only one and its been shot in the civil war!
And if you dont belive me, then your a retardish person!"

(responding to the above): "why would the thunderbird be around the american civil war presuming your referring to the american civil war"

(my favourite): "Thunderbirds are bigger than that and trhey will eat your ass no bull
I seen one before you dont want to ever see the dangerous Thunderbird they come in two forms a helpful one and the dangerous one there forms i cannt tell though"

"they do exist. I know this sounds weird, but I had a dream. They were circling a temple in India. The next day there was a new sighting reported in India. You might not belive, but do."

"hey a thunder bird's wings is more than 10 feet!!!!!!!"

(in response): "more like 30.
And there is a type of albatross over ten feet. It looks like a seagull"

"azif a real thunder bird looks like that if you!!! stay in the woods for your whole life you'll find out why it just thunder shaped as a bird and a thunder bolt going though"

"and this is bogus"

"thats just a seagull"

This response, posted by birdman2ns, brought us all down to earth:-

"Nice cormorant"
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