The African darter is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa wherever large bodies of water occur; overall the species remains widespread and common.
One subspecies, the Levant darter (Anhinga rufa chantrei), occurred at Lake Amik (Amik Gölü) in south-central Turkey, in Hula valley lake and marshes in northern Israel and in the mesopotamian marshes of the lower Euphrat and Tigris rivers in southern Iraq. The Turkish population disappeared during the 1930s and the Israeli population during Hula drainage in the 1950s. It was feared that it also had disappeared from Iraq, but a small and threatened population remains at least in the Hawizeh marshes (part of the Mesopotamian Marshes), which are also home to numerous other waters birds such as little grebe.
This species builds a stick nest in a tree and lays 3–6 eggs. It often nests with herons, egrets and cormorants.
It often swims with only the neck above water, hence the common name snakebird. This, too, is a habit shared with the other anhingas.
Unlike many other waterbirds the feathers of the African darter do not contain any oil and are therefore not waterproof. Because of this, the bird is less positively buoyant and its diving capabilities are enhanced. After diving for fish, the feathers can become waterlogged. In order to be able to fly and maintain heat insulation, it needs to dry its feathers. Thus the African darter is often seen sitting along the waterside spreading its wings and drying its feathers in the wind and the sun along with cormorants which may share its habitat.
The Okavango Delta is a labyrinth of lagoons, lakes and hidden channels covering an area of over 17,000 square km and the largest inland delta in the world. Trapped in the parched Kalahari sands it is a magnet for the wildlife who depend on the permanent waters of this unique feature.
Sometimes called a ‘swamp’, the Okavango is anything but. Moving, mysterious, placid, gentle and beautiful, from a wide and winding channel it spreads through tiny, almost unnoticeable channels that creep away behind a wall of papyrus reed, into an ever expanding network of increasingly smaller passages.
These link a succession of lagoons, islands and islets of various sizes, open grasslands and flooded plains in a mosaic of land and water. Palms and towering trees abound, throwing their shade over crystal pools, forest glades and grassy knolls.
The Okavango Delta is a vast inland river delta in northern Botswana. It’s known for its sprawling grassy plains, which flood seasonally, becoming a lush animal habitat. The Moremi Game Reserve occupies the east and central areas of the region. Here, dugout canoes are used to navigate past hippos, elephants and crocodiles. On dry land, wildlife includes lions, leopards, giraffes and rhinos. However, the bird life in these regions are equally rich in diversity.
I took this photo while on my first Botswana Delta photo safari trip. April 2019.