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Wednesday, 27 January 2010 21:54

Florida 2010 – I – Anhinga, the snakebird

 

IMG_4999PS I got excited when I learned last year I would have a chance to spend a little time in Florida at the end of the year 2009. In the same moment I recalled the beautiful bird pictures of Ondra Prosicky and I started to gather any useful information and to get ready for the adventure. The whole trip was a business journey but you always get some time to spend with the birds, but this is not what I wanted to talk about...in fact I wanted to begin with a little reflection on the evolution of a man-photographer-beginner – it happens very often that you start with the wildlife photography thoughtlessly, you do not know much about the living nature but you long for a picture of some really nice picture - like the Kingfisher for example.1D3_3754PS But over time your approach changes as you are getting to know the nature more and better – you realize that even the most common and unjustly ignored species that you see every day in the streets can hold the same beauty. This was the feeling that shaped up in my mind the last year and this was the feeling when I was preparing for the Florida trip...but I have to admit, that in spite of that thoughts, I had a few species in my head that I would really be happy to see in Florida! I cannot say that I like those species more than the others but those were simply the birds that represent something like a symbol of Florida for me. Besides Limpkin or Caracara to mention some of them that I did not meet at all in Florida, to see Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) was far from difficult – this bird is as common in Florida as for example Mallard in Europe! Of course in suitable habitats as are swamps and all the areas with shallow waters where Anhinga is diving for the prey (fishes).

 

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Why this bird is sometimes named „snakebird“ is evident when you get the chance to watch that bird while „fishing“ – all the body of the bird is submerged into the water and only the long neck terminated with sharp bill is protruding up from the water thus resembling swimming snake. What bewitched me when I saw Anhinga fro the first time was the nicely colored head and the long precise bill – this is an identification mark of all the birds from the Pelecaniformes Order – in Europe we know best the Gannets and Cormorants.

 

 

 

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As it usually happens with the species that I dream of to have in my gallery, the first encounter with Anhinga I got a little nervous – it was because of the excitement that Im finally seeing the bird. I quickly made a few „record shots“, which means shots without any greater preparation and camera set-up in order to have at least something if the bird would tent to fly away! After few days spent in Florida I realized that I dont really have to worry about that! You get to see Anhingas almost everywhere and at some places there were even tens of these birds gathering at one single tree. I was lucky enough to watch birds building a nest too!

 

 

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At the first sight it is obvious that Anhinga is a relative of Cormorants and I mean especially the posture when they dry up the feathers on the sun with wings wide open IMG_5054PS – they as well as Cormorants do not have the ability to oil their feathers but the good side of this is, that they can much more easily dive into the water to prey for the fishes. On the other hand there are few differences and it is not only the complete submerge of the Anhingas` body into the water; while Cormorants catch the fishes by grasping them with the bill, Anhingas use the sharp and well purpose-built bill to stab the fish. Anhinga also has interesting feathering – it is „decorated“ with white spots in the wings and light shag on the head; females have the whole neck colored in brown. Anhingas have much longer tail than Cormonats have.


 

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There must be tons of places where to see Anhinga in Florida but I give only the guaranteed spots that we had chance to visit (you can easily find the location of the spots on Google):

1D3_4289PSAnhinga Trail – small preserve in the eastern margin of Everglades National Park close to Homestead – the name speaks for itself, thhis place is a must-see and reliable spot to watch Anhingas from very close distance!.

Tamiami Trail – the 41 road called Tamiami Trail runs from the Naples at the western coast of Florida all the way to Miami. The road with many detours. drive loops and stops that crosses Big Cypress national Preserve and rims Everglades from North would easily take one week to drive! You will always see flocks of Herons, Egrets and Ibises along the trail, Kingfishers and raptors perching on the trees, waters full of Alligators and lots of Anhingas and Cormorants!

Wakodahatchee and Green Cay Wetlands are one of the best spots in the Miami area. Although small preserves in the middle of suburbs, they always teem with loads of wildlife. I was so amazed with the photography possibilities of Wakodahatchee that I spent there my very first as well as my very last day in Florida! You also meet a lot of local photographers there!


List of relevant articles about Florida

Florida 2010 – II – Pelican the bomber

Florida 2010 – III – Wakodahatchee, all in one

Florida 2010 – IV – Osprey, Florida`s fisher

Florida 2010 – V – Waders – not a simple task!

Florida 2010 – VI – Florida`s woodpeckers

Florida 2010 – VII – J.N.D. Darling and chilly tropics

Florida 2010 – VIII – Little Estero Lagoon

Vultures of southern USA

Florida 2010 – IX – Sebastian Inlet State Park

Human – a friend or enemy?

Florida X - Egrets and Herons

Florida XI – close-up

Florida XII – Fort Desoto

Florida XIII – some more birds

Birds of Florida - Portfolio (article)

Portfolio - birds of Florida (photos)

 

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Last Updated on Thursday, 27 January 2011 18:09
 
Comments (62)
  • Srpice obecná

    Ahoj Jirko,
    krásné foto úlovky!!!
    Dík za rozšíření znalostí o "zmijákovi".
    Mám radost, že se ti tvá služební cesta takhle vydařila a že ses v pořádku vrátil ke své milované Elišce.
    Š.

  • Jirka Slama

    Ahoj Sarko, pekne jsi ho nazvala, Zmijak :-)
    Cesta se vydarila moc takze uz planujeme navrat...coz ale ostatne delame vzdy protoze vsude je krasne a clovek by se chtel vzdy vracet...
    Jirka

  • Míla  - re:

    Jirko, haďáka´s nafotil moc krásně, tak jako předešlé ptactvo a krajiny.Komentář jsem si též se zájmem přečetl. Jsi fotografická jednička! Jen tak dál.:-)

  • Jirka Slama

    Ahoj Milo,
    diky za povzbudiva slova a dalsi originalni nazev Anhingy, to uz mame vedle zmijaka hadaka :-)

    S tou jednickou jsi to trochu prehnal, jednicky jsou jini, ja jsem mozna tak stovka nebo tisicovka :D

  • alessandro  - Good work

    Very nice pictures and article
    thank you very much for sharing
    ale

  • Jirka Slama

    Thanks a lot Alessandro and hope to see you in Norway in summer!

  • Zdeněk Souček

    Jirko, jak ta anhinga polyká rybu, to je nádherná fotka. Ta se povedla. A vůbec, celé stránky jsi pěkně vylepšil.

  • Jirka Slama

    Diky Zdenku, Florida byla uzasna jak jsi mel ale jiste sam moznost se presvedcit. Doufam, ze se jeste nekde potkame!

  • Petr Bambousek  - Já to věděl

    Moc pěkný fotky, Jirko. Těším se na další (to víš, jsem nenasyta) ! Petr

  • Jirka Slama

    Diky Petre, Tvych slov si opravdu moc cenim! Dalsi fotky jiste budou ale urcite nestihnu vse pred Tvou cestou na Floridu kterou mas beztak naplanovanou vic nez dobre! Tesim se na Tve ulovky!

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