|Australasian Darter Anhinga novaehollandiae
(aka Anhinga melanogaster)
The Australasian Darter is distributed in Australia and New Guinea. See the distribution map at Birdlife International. In the past, most authorities have treated it as a sub-species of A. melanogaster which is also found in Africa south of the Sahara, India and south-east Asia. However, Howard and Moore 4th Edition and HBW Checklist class it as a species based on Schodde, R., G. Kirwan & R. Porter, 2012. Morphological differentiation among the darters. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club, 132 (4): 283-294
|It prefers shallow inland lakes and slow-moving rivers but is also to be seen in estuaries and coastal lagoons.
The male, seen here in photos 1 to 4 and 6, is black with a white streak on the neck. It has white plumes on the wings and chestnut on the front of the neck.
This is particularly noticeable in breeding plumage.
The female has a grey head and a whitish breast and foreneck as can be seen in photo 5 while the bird in photo 7 with an unmarked face and pinkish feet is a juvenile.
|It feeds mainly on fish which it spears underwater. To help it dive for longish periods the feathers are not waterproof so you often see it swimming low in the water with only its head protruding. This leads to its alternative name of "Snake-bird". The drawback to this is that it has to spend time perched with outstretched wings to dry off its plumage.|
|Photos 8 to 12 are a sequence of a male catching and finally swallowing a fish called a Long Tom. The whole process took over 5 minutes as the bird tried to manoeuvre the fish head first down its gullet.|
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