Date: 5/18/17 8:58 pm From: <sparvophile...> [NEBirds] <NEBirds...> Subject: [NEBirds] Anhinga in Saline County
Pleased to report a sighting of an Anhinga this afternoon (May 18) over Swan Creek WMA in Saline County.
I initially found the bird circling over the lake, at a height that I'd estimate at about 200 ft (about twice as high as a ten-story building). My view was occasionally blocked by trees, but I was able to get clear views often enough to see the shape quite well. The sky was overcast, so the bird appeared mostly as a silhouette, although I may have seen yellow feet at one point.
Long neck, carried with a slight cormorant-like kink; small head, apparently no wider than neck; long straight pointed bill. Appeared thus both when seen from directly below and, when the bird banked, in profile view. Tail about the same length as the combined neck and head; almost always at least slightly fanned. At one point, the bird banked enough to give me a poor oblique view of the upperwings; I saw some white or light gray there, probably in the upperwing coverts and definitely not in the primaries. The bird was soaring; I don't think I ever saw it flap its wings.
I dashed back to the car for the camera, but by the time I got there, the bird was much higher and at some distance to the east. I got a few photos, which suffice to show the overall shape but little else. I waited for some time, hoping that the bird would return, but it didn't. When I left Swan Creek, I checked the private lake about a mile to the east, hoping that it might be there, but found nothing.
I'm very well acquainted with Anhinga, both perched and in flight: I've done lots of birding in the South Carolina Lowcountry, where they're fairly common. The shape of this bird alone seems dispositive: the long neck and long pointed bill rule out raptors; the pointed bill and long tail rule out cormorants; and the long tail and lack of long legs rule out herons.