Tuesday, 3 February 2009
Anhinga anhinga (Linnaeus, 1766)
Anhingidae; Pelecaniformes; Aves; Chordata
Colour pencil and pen-outlined illustration by Mo Hassan, August 2008
Photograph taken in Everglades National Park, Florida, August 2008
I had wanted to visit the Everglades in southern Florida for a very long time, and two summers ago I got the chance. I stayed in a motel in Homestead, a town very close to the entrance to the National Park for one night with my parents. After arriving from Orlando, we checked into the motel and dumped our stuff then went to the Everglades, despite the threat of a thunderstorm, as is usual in the late afternoon in August in that part of the world. I was unimpressed with the park that day, seeing only a couple of American crows (Corvus brachydactylus) and a few mourning doves (Zenaida macroura), before the rains came and we turned back to Homestead.
The next morning though, we left early and took a drive through the park, to the Eco Lake in the southernmost part of the park. There, I saw a few gorgeously-coloured roseate spoonbills (Platalea ajaja) and my first ever osprey (Pandion haliaetus). We then took a walk in the northern part of the park, and saw two huge American alligators (photo of one of them here), and the beautiful anhinga you can see above. We were not very far from it, seemingly insistent that it couldn’t be seen amongst the reeds. Rather aptly, the name of the trail we chose to walk on that morning was the Anhinga trail.
The illustration is part of a series that I tried to carry out when I got back to the UK, featuring all of the bird species I had seen in my two weeks in Florida. I drew most of the herons and the double-crested cormorant and anhinga, then gave up... I was using about 6 books to get the right pose, colour and plumage details in order to copy them. The best of them all, I have to say, is the drawing of a male anhinga you see here. I normally don’t have the patience or willpower to draw white on black with pencil (it’s impossible to draw white pencil onto black pencil, so you have to leave gaps amongst the dark areas), so naturally I was shocked that it turned out so good. I’ve been urged to put this drawing on this blog by my mum.