African Darter.. or the “Snakebird”.

African Darter (Anhinga rufa )

This bird is often referred to as the snakebird, as it swims with its long thin neck above the water and the body below… It will climb onto a branch or rock to dry it’s feathers. Unlike other water birds the feathers do not contain any oil and therefore aren’t waterproof. This makes the bird less buoyant and its diving capabilities improve. After diving for fish, the feathers can become waterlogged. So to be able to fly it needs to dry its feathers. So it’s often seen sitting along the waterside spreading its wings and drying its feathers in the wind and the sun.

A few photos showing the neck that is quite odd at times and then drying off before flight…






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Red-knobbed Coot..

An aquatic rail, moorhen that is found in most dams, rivers and streams.. it has long lobed feet that assist it to swim, but is not a member of the duck family with web feet…

The red knobs on it’s head are larger in breading birds and grey in the juvenile birds.

A water weed eater, mainly, but is considered an omnivore, and will take small live prey and the eggs of other water birds.

A few photos I took on Friday last…



The Weed eater………..



And now for something I can’t understand, a bird that dives to the bottom to get weeds, then needs to take a bath!!!



Adjust a few feathers……….


And then check in it’s purse for parking money……


African Rail.. not the steam type..

African Rail (Rallus caerulescens)

Now this is not a bird I see everyday, in fact this is the first time I’ve been able to take a photo of one. So I count myself lucky this time…

Its breeding habitat is marshes and reed beds across eastern and southern Africa from Ethiopia to South Africa. The African Rail nests in a dry location in marsh vegetation, both sexes building the cup nest. African Rails are secretive in the breeding season, but are easier to see than many other rail species, especially in the morning. They are noisy birds, with a trilled whistled treee-tee-tee-tee-tee call.

These birds probe with their bill in mud or shallow water, also picking up food by sight. They mainly eat insects, crabs and other small aquatic animals.

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African Rail..

African Jacana.. Grootlangtoon [Afrikaans]

African Jacana (Actophilornis africanus).

Now for a bird with such long toes, I do love the Afrikaans name of “Grootlangtoon” or roughly translated “Big long toe”, this describes the bird beautifully.

They are waders, identified by long toes and long claws that enable them to walk on floating vegetation in shallow lakes, their preferred habitat. They breed on floating nests with such beautiful coloured eggs, when I collected eggs I remember taking the chance with crocodiles and wading into a dam to get myself an egg.. I must admit it was with a certain amount of trepidation as I was in the nude and could picture the crocodile sizing me up as a meal… deciding where to bite first… oooohh I cross my legs even now at the thought of it…

The female breeds with a number of males ( It is a polyandrous species) and believe it or not, it is the male that raises the chicks… he has the ability to pick the chicks up under his wings and hide them as he feeds and jumps about on the water lilies… which is their main feeding area, where they feed on insects and other invertebrates picked from the floating vegetation or the surface of the water.

The eggs are preyed upon by many of it’s enemies so the female will breed several times a year… they have no specific time of the year to breed, and as the poor “henpecked” male has to raise the chicks, she can fly around and take on another man… is this not a bit slutty.???

Their call is a strange one and can be heard at the following site.. click here … and now for a photo or two…


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Red-knobbed Coot.

The Red-knobbed Coot or Crested Coot, (Fulica cristata),

is a member of the rail and crake bird family, the Rallidae.

The Red-knobbed Coot is largely black except for the white facial shield. It is 38–45 cm (15–18 in) long, spans 75–85 cm (30–33 in) across the wings and weighs 585–1,085 g (1.29–2.39 lb.). As a swimming species, it has partial webbing on its long strong toes. The juvenile is paler than the adult, has a whitish breast, and lacks the facial shield; the adult’s black plumage develops when about 3-4 months old, but the white shield is only fully developed at about one year old, some time later.

These photos taken at Rietvlei Dam….

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