This rather athletic Shag was photographed by one of our Nature's Home readers when visiting the Farne Islands earlier this year. (Photo courtesy of Peter Overton, West Midlands).

Peter says - "We witnessed this Shag behaving more like a Rockhopper penguin than a Shag."

We would have to agree with you Peter, fantastic photo, well done! Another feathered fellow the Shag often gets mistaken for is Phalacrocorax carbo (10 points for guessing the scientific name, hover your cursor over the link to reveal its common identity). They can be tricky to tell apart, especially in the case of young birds.

Spot the difference 

  • Shags are birds of the coast. Occasionally, they turn up inland along rivers and lakes, but usually alone (cormorants are often seen in groups inland). The shag's beak is more delicate in comparison to the cormorant's and the forehead angle is steeper. Young birds sometimes show the hint of the adult bird's crest. In the UK they breed on coastal sites, mainly in the north and west, and more than half of their population is found at fewer than 10 sites, making them a Red List species. Shags usually stay within 100-200km of their breeding grounds.

  • The cormorant has a stouter, more powerful beak than the shag. The angle of its forehead where it joins the beak is shallower and the yellow skin around the face is more extensive. Cormorants can be found either on the coast or at inland waters, where there are some large breeding colonies. For more information on this plucky pair, visit Cormorants and Shags in our Bird A-Z.

Photo of the week is your time to shine, our Nature's Home mailbox is a cornucopia of photographic excellence thanks to you and your tireless efforts to bless us with sightings from around the globe. Keep them coming @