Sunday, June 2, 2013

Australasian Darter & colour variation

I had some good opportunities to observe Australasian darter Anhinga novaehollandiae the other day along Melbourne's Yarra River. Coming across both male and female birds enabled appreciation of their contrasting appearance.

The pictures were taken while walking along the Main Yarra Trail starting at a Fitzsimmon's Lane car park and heading upstream to the amazing Petty's Orchard.

Australasian darter (adult male) Candlebark Reserve

Australasian darter. I suspect the female bird. It is my understanding that the immature birds look similar but are paler again and have a less distinct "neck streak".

At a few points along this stretch of the Yarra River there are some deciduous plantings lending some late Autumn colour. 

More typical vegetation, Yarra River, Templestowe
And how about that neck! No wonder they are also known as Snake-birds (even more striking in the water)!

And here's a minute of video I shot of an Australasian Darter swimming at Noosa Heads in Queensland in 2006. I remember watching this bird for several minutes and was impressed with how skilfully it moved underwater. It's efficiency of movement and spooky potential as an underwater hunter left me with an eerie feeling as well.

Unfortunately this doesn't really come across in the video! I was probably wearing polaroids.

More links:

Wikipedia's Darter page describing the 4 species of the genus Anhinga worldwide
Yarra Organics at Petty's Orchard - a cafe & shop that I have put on my "To Do" list

 Bird on!


  1. wow you sure got some fabulous shots of the darters; they certainly make great subjects and the wonderful markings are so clearly defined in that third image especially. Well done Pete!

  2. I find Darters quite fascinating! You've got some great shots here, Pete!!
    I posted my Darter shots to WBW back in March.