Translator Gadget

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Snakebird


The "Snakebird" or African Darter (Anhinga rufa) carries this unusual name due to the way that it swims in the water (snake like). It swims very low in the water often only with the head and neck visible above the waterline.  They are very good underwater swimmers and this is where they catch their prey, mainly fish but frogs, snakes , crustaceans and molluscs can also be on the menu.   

It is unique to sub-Saharan Africa and prefers still, shallow inland fresh water but typically avoids fast-flowing water.  They can be found roosting in trees, bushes or reedbeds and usually found during the day resting on dead trees and rocks after feeding.

Unlike many birds, the feathers of the African Darter are not waterproof, and the bird must dry its feathers before taking flight. 

IUCN has this bird listed as "least concern" however the population trend is downwards, it is persecuted in some areas of Southern Africa due to a perceived impact on recreational fish such as Trout.   More information can be found on the IUCN website Anhinga rufa

During a recent trip to Kruger National Park in South Africa I was lucky enough to be treated to the sight of one of these wonderful birds returning to it's perch with a rather large fish.


African Darter (Anhinga rufa
prepares to enter the water


African Darter (Anhinga rufa
returns shortly after successfully spearing a large fish



African Darter (Anhinga rufa
proceeds to drag the fish up it's favorite perch



African Darter (Anhinga rufa
still climbing


African Darter (Anhinga rufa
after a little manipulation the fish is swallowed head first



African Darter (Anhinga rufa
down the hatch



African Darter (Anhinga rufa
Gulp !!



African Darter (Anhinga rufa
and now to getting those feathers dried !