The Hunter of Africa...

Posted on 27-06-2021

The European Bee-eater is a migratory bird that can be seen returning to Europe from the month of May...

It is a bird with very variegated plumage the size of a thrush. Very gregarious, the European Bee-eater nests in colonies.
This one will stay in Europe until the end of the summer (August, September), before resuming its winter quarters in West Africa and South Africa...


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European Bee-eater

The European bee-eater is a migratory bird, at the end of summer, when its favorite preys (bee, wasp, hornet) become rarer, it begins a long postnuptial migration to West Africa and South Africa
Its colors with metallic reflections are composed of the turquoise blue-green of the belly, the chest and the lower wings, reddish-brown on the back, crown and upper wings, dark green of the tail, black of the slightly curved beak and as if extended by a line of feathers also black, iris red in a black eye, yellow edged with black for the bib.
Bee-eaters are gregarious birds. They hunt in groups during the day and spend the night together in dormitories. European bee-eaters hunt in flight ; they spot their prey and chase it in flight before catching it. In some areas in the Camargue, they catch a lot of dragonfly. This skill in flight has earned them the nickname « Hunter of Africa ».
It generally nests in colonies, the peculiarity of the European bee-eater is to dig its nest in the ground, an embankment or in a sand pit. A gallery sometimes over a meter long is dug with the help of the bird's beak and legs. It nests from May to August, the female lays 5 to 7 eggs, the two partners share the brooding, which lasts about three weeks, and the rearing of the young which lasts three to four weeks in the nest.


Photographer or simple observer...

Some precautions are in order to observe or photograph this magnificent bird. Remember the naturalist's motto « observe without disturbing ». Never get too close to the nesting sites of a colony, the consequences can be disastrous: risk of abandonment of the site and their broods ! Don't try to get close-ups if you are not in a lookout.

For information, some photos presented above are sometimes taken with a 500mm telephoto lens sometimes associated with a 1.4 converter and an APS-C format camera, which is the equivalent of a 1050mm telephoto lens ! Some photos are sometimes cropped. In terms of the quality of the photos, this is not ideal, but it is the price to pay for « photographing without disturbing ».
It is sometimes possible to photograph bee-eaters in places a little far from their nesting site, in fact they like to perch on the protruding branches of certain trees, electric wires and fence posts during their hunting session.


Quote of the moment...

Do like the tree, change your leaves and keep your roots. Change your ideas and keep your principles. Tibetan proverb