Yes, I truly did go there a lot this year! It is well worth it. Out of town photog friends, if you ever come to Louisiana, Black Bayou Lake NWR is one of the places I will definitely take you.
And, back in my kayak. Here’s one of the great values of a kayak for a photographer like me: You can sneak up on birds better with it. For some reason, a human paddling a kayak is less threatening to birds than a human on foot. Or so it seems to me.
I don’t know how close I got to this anhinga; I’m a lousy judge of distances. But I know I was closer than I’ve ever gotten on land. That’s partly because anhingas usually perch over water, but also because I very quietly snuck up on it in my kayak, pausing from paddling every so often to shoot a couple of frames. So I can see my progress getting closer in my thumbnails! I did have to crop this shot some, but still, I was pretty close.
As for anhingas, what a fascinating bird! The name comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird (www.definitions.net). Anhingas fish with their body submerged; an observer sees only a long neck and head moving through the water, and the “snakebird” moniker is apparent.
After being submerged for awhile, anhingas perch in trees and spread their wings to dry. But this bird is calling. That pink chin is hard to see until the bird arches its wings, stretches its neck, inflates the chin pouch and issues a gutteral call. To hear the call, go to YouTube and search for “anhinga call.”
And, BTW, that long, slender, sharp bill is used for stabbing prey. The anhinga is a spear fisherbird!