One day I was wandering the Seine when I saw a bunch of cormorants sitting in a tree on the bank opposite me (I was on the left bank).
I took some pictures, and I was able to crop this one out as pretty clear evidence that cormorants do sit in trees.
I didn't know that cormorants sat in trees.
In fact, until my life had begun to include lots of walks along the Seine, I didn't know that cormorants ever came inland to fresh water - certainly not as far upriver as Paris is from La Havre.
But there they were.
To be totally truthful, for a couple of years I had seen cormorants at "the cop dock" which is on the river side of Quais Bernard, and across the street level quais from Jardin des Plantes; it's where the water borne Paris Police moor their boats, so I knew cormorants came to fresh water.
But I didn't know that they sat in trees.
When I saw this one today, on my screen saver, on Lopez Island, too many miles, and too many lifetimes away from the cop dock, and from that bird, in that picture, in that tree, it reminded me of a passage from A Curious Confluence, my first novel.
Here is that snippet.
"Then he heard the sound – once heard, he recognized it – again. It came from the sky and it seemed to be moving. He rose up and looked up into the sky with its westering sun and heard the sound again. He adjusted his gaze downward closer to the water and saw a flock of black long necked birds with orange cheeks and long pointed beaks. As they flashed down the river, just beyond his reach and just above the water they shouted joyfully to the waves with high pitched croaking shrieks. They seemed to have a kind of magic separation from the water, so close were they to it and so fast was their passage.
“Fish snakes” he thought to himself. He had seen them all his life and knew how they swam like lightning under water with their long serpentine necks fully extended. In this manner they captured their prey. Always after one of their sudden disappearances below the surface of the river they would soon be seen surfacing with some sort of fish in the beak of their snake-like forward quarter. The river teemed with myriad varieties of fish and these fish snakes prospered with that bounty. The tribesman had always wondered if one of these could be captured and tamed and taught to catch fish and return to a human master. He had never heard of such a thing, but he had often wondered, when he saw them in action if such a thing might be possible.
"As the ones that had just passed disappeared, he rose out of the boat and began to take stock of the nature of the place."