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Australian Darter

Australian Darter
Photo Information
Copyright: Colin McQueen (McQueenca) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 131 W: 11 N: 226] (1387)
Genre: Animals
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2013-01-31
Categories: Birds
Camera: Canon 7D, Canon EF 300 1:2.8 L IS II USM
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/250 seconds
Details: Tripod: Yes
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Date Submitted: 2013-02-02 1:30
Viewed: 2564
Points: 30
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
This photo was taken in the early morning under sunny conditions. This photo has been cropped.

Australasian Darter
Anhinga novaehollandiae

Because of its long and slender neck, the Australasian Darter is sometimes called the snakebird. Usually inhabiting freshwater wetlands, darters swim with their bodies submerged beneath the water’s surface, with only the sinuous neck protruding above the water, enhancing its serpentine qualities. Darters forage by diving to depths of about 60 centimetres, and impaling fish with its sharp, spear-like beak. Small fish are swallowed underwater, but larger ones are brought to the surface, where they are flicked off the bill (sometimes into the air) and then swallowed head-first.


The Darter is a large, slim water bird with a long snake-like neck, sharp pointed bill, and long, rounded tail. Male birds are dark brownish black with glossy black upperwings, streaked and spotted white, silver-grey and brown. The strongly kinked neck has a white or pale brown stripe from the bill to where the neck kinks and the breast is chestnut brown. Females and immatures are grey-brown above, pale grey to white below, with a white neck stripe that is less distinct in young birds. The Darter is often seen swimming with only the snake-like neck visible above the water, or drying its wings while perched on a tree or stump over water. While its gait is clumsy on land, it can soar gracefully to great heights on thermals, gliding from updraft to updraft. It has a cross-shaped silhouette when flying.

Similar Species

The Darter's slender body, long, snake-like neck and its pointed, rather than hooked, bill distinguishes it readily from the bulkier cormorants with which it is often found.


In Australia, the Darter is found from Adelaide, South Australia, to Tennant Creek, Northern Territory and then to Broome, Western Australia. it is also found in south-western Australia, from Perth to Esperance. Worldwide, it has been thought of as one of two mainAnhinga species (the other, A. anhinga, is found in North America), found in the southern half of Africa, Madagascar, Iraq, Pakistan, India, south-east Asia, Indonesia and New Guinea. However, A. melanogaster is now considered to be further divided into three species, with rufa being found in Africa, melanogaster in south Asia and novaehollandiae in New Guinea and Australia (the Australasian Darter).


The Darter is found in wetlands and sheltered coastal waters, mainly in the Tropics and Subtropics. It prefers smooth, open waters, for feeding, with tree trunks, branches, stumps or posts fringing the water, for resting and drying its wings. Most often seen inland, around permanent and temporary water bodies at least half a metre deep, but may be seen in calm seas near shore, fishing. The Darter is not affected by salinity or murky waters, but does require waters with sparse vegetation that allow it to swim and dive easily. It builds its nests in trees standing in water, and will move to deeper waters if the waters begin to dry up.


The Darter catches fish with its sharp bill partly open while diving in water deeper than 60 cm. The fish is pierced from underneath, flicked onto the water's surface and then swallowed head first. Smaller items are eaten underwater and large items may be carried to a convenient perch and then swallowed. Insects and other aquatic animals, including tortoises, may also be eaten, as well as some vegetable matter. In hot weather, adult birds may pour water from their bills into the gullets of their young chicks when they are still in the nest.


The Darter is usually a solitary bird, forming pairs only while breeding. Breeding is erratic, happening whenever water levels and food supplies are suitable, but most often occurs in spring and summer. Nests are usually solitary, but Darters may nest within loose colonies with other water birds that nest in trees, such as cormorants, spoonbills and ibis. The male decorates a nest-site with green leafy twigs and displays to attract a mate, with elaborate wing-waving and twig-grasping movements. The male carries most of the nest material to the nest-site, which is normally in the fork of a tree standing in water, usually about 3.5 m above the water's surface. Both sexes complete the nest, incubate the eggs and raise the young. Chicks are kept warm by brooding continously (or cooled down by shading with spread wings) for up to a week after hatching and both adults stay in the nest with the chicks overnight. In hot weather, the adults will even shake water over the chicks after a swim. Chicks can swim after about four weeks in the nest and start to fly at about 50 days.

Source: birdiife.org.au

Hotelcalifornia, Hormon_Manyer, anel, CeltickRanger, Argus, Miss_Piggy, ramthakur, lazyman has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

Hello Colin,
Beautiful picture of Austrelian Darter.Nice natural colour on wings.Perfect sharpness and POV.Thanks a lot for sharing this picture.
Kind regards,

Hi Colin,
Great shot of you again. The depth of field you created is unbeatable here! Perfect composition and sharpness. I wish you had sunlight then! But a nice photo, even without it. Congrats and tfs.
Best regards, László

  • Great 
  • anel Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 3053 W: 3 N: 8715] (40574)
  • [2013-02-02 5:00]

Hello Colin,
An impressive bird-species this Autralasian Darter! Well taken picture showing nicely plumage and head of the bird. Good sharpness and well managed light. An interesting and natural posting!

  • Great 
  • nagraj Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1618 W: 106 N: 3208] (15166)
  • [2013-02-02 5:13]

Fine portrait of this Darter and good pose too. tfs.

  • Great 
  • PeterZ Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5137 W: 166 N: 13121] (49139)
  • [2013-02-02 6:02]

Hello Colin,
Superb photo of this Australian Darter, a subspecies of the anhinga melanogaster. Great sharpness, details, DOF and a good composition. Splendid natural colours.

Ciao Colin, great capture of fantastic heron in nice pose, fine details, splendid sharpness and wonderful natural colors, very well done, my friend, have a good week end, ciao Silvio

Hello Colin

Excellent close-up photo of the Australian Darter,
fine POV, DOF, great focus, sharpness, details, and contrast, TFS


Hello Colin,
Very well captured picture of this Australasian Darter with good colour and sharpness.
Nice PoV also.
best wishes,

hello Colin
super good sharpness and great details
the colours and light are beautiful
thanks greeting lou

Hallo Colin
Beautiful and very closely captured with wonderful detail seen on the bird's plumage. Great point of view showing the back feathers to the best, especially the assortment of rich colours. A great image, with impressive sharpness. Thanks for sharing. Best regards.

  • Great 
  • pirate Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 799 W: 152 N: 1186] (7474)
  • [2013-02-02 12:37]

Hi Colin
Every single detail is visible on this bird
Great, you have an incredible lens
With f:2.8 or 3.5 the bg would be less present but maybe the doof would not be on the whole bird
Anyway great

  • Great 
  • lousat Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 6595 W: 89 N: 15659] (65489)
  • [2013-02-02 14:24]

Hi Colin,another very professional capture despite the distance,you crop the pic but the details are always perfects,magnificent specie and nice composition too.Have a nice Sunday and thanks,Luciano

An exceptionally sharp picture with perfect light control, Colin.
I like the plumage of this bird.
Thanks for sharing this fantastic image of a bird I have seen for the first time.

A sharp and beautiful photograph. Congratulations.

good and clear shot of this strange bird. thanks for showing

Hi Colin,

You're capturing well this bird by a good macro and excellent tone/clarity, so it's interesting and impressive to see lovely Australasian Darter with yellow/sharp beak, brown head/body and gray back. And, the focus is correct to this bird.

Kind regards,

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