Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Anhinga feast in Venice, Florida

 Florida's ubiquitous "water bird," the Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga) is a consumate fisherman.  On a recent visit to Venice Beach, I stopped at Maxine Barritt Park to watch some of these interesting birds feeding on small fish.

 Maxine Barritt Park is a new and unique multi-use facility located right on the beach.  The fresh water impoundment where I watched the anhingas was once part of a waste water treatment facility.  Deemed by the city to be inappropriately located so near the beach it was relocated, and the site converted into a lovely park with a large pavilion, fresh water pond, kids playground, walking/jogging track, rest rooms, and FREE beach parking!

If you like beaches, Venice has it all....including a popular doggie beach where your canine friends can run on the sand and swim in the Gulf.

Here's a look at the impoundment and paved walking track.  Lots of birds....and a few very large reptilians.
 Also called "snake bird" and "water turkey," anhingas like to feed in fresh water ponds and slow moving rivers and streams. 

 Great swimmers, anhingas actually spear small fish underwater.

 Then they surface and flip the fish in the air in order to swallow them head first!

Not having the well developed oil glands that other water birds do to keep their feathers dry, the anhinga is often seen on shore or in trees with wings spread to dry in the sun.

 But, beware Mr Anhinga, as Florida's ponds have other hungry creatures!

Nature's food web is sometimes unpleasant to watch, but I'm sure it was just as unpleasant to watch the anhingas feed.....that is if you are a small fish!

Nature isn't just seen in the wild abounds as well in city and suburb, so get out and enjoy.


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