At first sight I thought this bird was a cormorant, but it’s actually a darter, also known as a snake bird because of its long, snake-like neck. Darters are related to cormorants, and also to boobies and gannets. They swim fast under water, hunting and impaling fish with their formidable long, thin beak.
Like cormorants, they sit on shore with their wings spread to dry. After I’d been watching this one for a few minutes, it decided to take off and fly over the water. It’s interesting to see how low it flies, with the wing tips actually tapping the water as it goes.
This pose reminded me of the ballet, the Dying Swan:
Here you can see the characteristic chestnut colouring at the base of the darter’s neck:
Common name: Darter
Scientific name: Anhinga melanogaster
Approximate length: 90 cm; wing span: 1.2 m
Date spotted: 12 February 2017 (Summer)
Location: Manly Dam Reserve, New South Wales, Australia: 33°46’49.6″S 151°15’05.7″E