(Nikon D5600, 200-500mm lens; 1/500, f/5.6, ISO250; hand-held)
Oriental Darter or Indian Darter (Anhinga melanogaster), a native of the Indian subcontinent, is a water bird with beautifully patterned wings. Its long neck has a bend extending from the seventh to the ninth vertebra which helps its dagger like bill to dart and impale fish under water, earning it its name. The fish is then brought out of the water, tossed into the air and swallowed headfirst. It is also called ‘snake bird’ because of its practice of swimming with the body submerged and just the slender neck and head above water, giving the impression of a snake. Its feathers are not water-proof, which is an advantage, as it helps to absorb water and make the bird less buoyant, aiding it in diving and swimming faster. But to fly well, it has to spread its waterlogged wings and dry them; this is the usual pose that one sees the bird in. Its population has been steadily declining due to habitat loss, hunting, and egg harvesting and it has been placed in the ‘near-threatened’ category of IUCN list.