I agree with Stamper. I don't think the sharpness of the ground is important. The picture's about the anhinga, but for the picture to be anything more than a casual snapshot with a bird in the middle of the frame there needs to be some surrounding geometry to place the bird.
I see what you mean. However, what I find interesting in my Crop-2 version are the branches surrounding the Anhinga (we call it Darter or Snake Bird in Australia) which seem to complement or mimic the shape and form of the bird, particularly the way its long neck is as bent as some of the branches.
I also like the greater simplicity of Crop_2, just bare branches and branch-like bird set against a uniform blue sky.
I'm not sure I like the fuzzy foreground in your suggestion. Out-of-focus backgrounds are fine, but I find that OoF foregrounds can be a bit distracting. Nevertheless, I'll make prints of both versions and see what others think, just as an exercise.
Attached is a crop of the bottom right foliage to give you a clearer idea of how fuzzy it is.