August 2011 Night-Heron
I had the opportunity to visit my cousin Carol and her husband Byron in middle Tennessee for a few days in August. We saw some nice birds and had a great time, but the highlight was a ride in their boat on the Caney Fork river, a major tributary of the Cumberland River system. We saw several birds at a distance along the way, but just at the end of our trip we were able to get really close to this Black-crowned Night-Heron perched along the bank above us.
Back home I made my usual visit to Hanna Park in Jacksonville. Anhingas populate the park in greater numbers in the summer and are often seen with their wings spread drying out in the sun.
Unlike ducks, the Anhinga does not have oil on its feathers to waterproof them. Consequently its wings can become waterlogged weighing the bird down. However, this allows it to dive easily and search underwater for prey. It can stay down for some time.
In more than 20 years of living in Florida I had not seen an Anhinga, but when I started birding it was the first bird on my Florida “life list”. It is also called the Snake Bird, Darter, or Water Turkey. It has a very long neck, and often swims with only its head and neck above water, looking like a snake ready to strike.
It is a high flyer and graceful in the air despite its shape and size.
The Anhingas pictured here are all females. I have only seen a few males (black head, neck and upper breast) and none close enough to get a good shot.
Green Herons also abound in the summer, and then there is the occasional Red-shouldered Hawk.
Lastly, a new bird for me was this Black Tern (Juvenile), one of several flying around the lake in the park. I never did see any adults.
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Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist
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“One touch of nature makes the whole world kin” –Shakespeare