This bird inhabits quiet, still waters, both fresh and salt, but rarely the open sea. In this area they are generally found in the lower reaches of waterways with plenty of vegetation, singly, in pairs, or in small groups. Like Cormorants, it needs to dry itself by holding its wings out, and is often seen doing so on a low branch over water.
The Darter swims with its body submerged and only its head and long neck showing above water. Its neck is coiled into an ‘s’ shape, ready to strike its prey, and gives the Darter it’s colloquial name of ‘Snake Bird’.
Photo: Trevor Pescott. Illustration: Mark Trinham.