Inside the World of Bee-eaters

	“The wise man knows that it is better 
	to sit on the banks of a remote mountain stream 
	than to be emperor of the whole world.” 
	― Zhuangzi

One bird that is somewhat elusive and challenges us to keep going out to find new areas is the Rainbow Bee-eater.

We’ve been known to drive to Newstead, and sit quietly on the creek bank that runs through the cemetery as its usually a honey-pot area for them during nesting season.   Of course the opportunity for a pie at the Guildford General Store might have something to do with that journey as well.
The You Yangs Park is also a well known area for them, although the nesting there is generally on private property and access is a bit more difficult.  We also see them at Mt Rothwell Conservation Area, and no doubt they nest there, but it’s also not an easy access to organise.

However we had been able to gain access by some good fortune and the help of our friend Chris—he of Eynesbury fame—to an area with an old creekline, and the early morning light running over the nesting sites.  So as I’ve been wont to say before.  We went.

Wanting to make the most of the light, we packed and were ready to leave well before sun-up.  The beautiful rich black sky with sparkling stars looked a treat as we drove out, and we both smiled a little inwardly ready to enjoy a grand sunrise.

But. (Don’t you just hate that!)

By the time we’d hit the halfway mark and ominous dark cloud line was rapidly moving over the horizon, and it just kept on coming.  Head shaking.

On arrival, and getting the gate open, and driving down to the shed area for parking, the first beams of that promised sun were making their way over the hills behind us, and running like small kids at a picnic, out of control, but everywhere through the trees and shrubs.  Glorious time to be awake.  The dark cloud line was now three quarters over the sky and  heading to block of the light, so it was certain we’d lose the light. Meanwhile the generous insect like calls of the Bee-eaters encouraged us to come on down.

The walk down to the creekline was pleasant in that first early morning light and the rich calls of the Bee-eaters at work over the trees was showed they were both very busy and in the area.  We had been able to find several nesting sites after several previous visits and today it seems we had lucked out on a day when it appears that two of the young flew for the first time.

Then, the black cloud line hit the sun, and darkness descended on the face of the deep.Well at least we had a some birds, a cuppa, and clever me. A tripod. 🙂

The biggest challenge photographically is the holes are on one side of the steep banks of the creek, so we have to shoot across the creek.  Too much water to try and be clever and lump the equipment over there, set it up and radio-control the exposures.  So we settled for hoping that the birds would sometimes work on our side of the creek. They didn’t disappoint.

On one hole, a parent flew by, carrying a large dragonfly.  Then both adults set on perches not too far from the  hole and chirripped to the young ones inside.   One eventually stuck its head out.  Looked around and immediately ducked back inside. More chittering from the adults, and again a quick look around and back in again.
Now thought I, why don’t I put the D810 in video mode on the tripod and just let it run, hopefully will get the little bird coming out of the nest.  I can’t display video here, but it can be accessed from my Flickr page here.

Here is a second one. (about 9mg) of it flying from the hole

Now, while the video idea turned out well, it was, in the true spirit of using up karma, to come back and get me later in the morning.  The use of video uses up a battery really fast.  Sometime later I found a juvenile on a branch waiting to be fed.  Ha! says I, I’ll sit and wait.  And after a few minutes mum turned up with a fine dragonfly.  Just as I pressed the shutter for the National Geographic shot—The Battery went FLAT.
And of course I was a long ways from the camera bag, resting comfortably in the shade with its battery  holder full of nice fresh batteries, enjoying the time with its friend, Tripod.
To be fair, I could have muttered, but I got up, and headed back to the bag.  Such is the vagaries of life, cameras, batteries, and the like.
Fully armed with a fresh battery, a spare in my pocket, I arrived back. The young one, now of course on its own, sat for about five minutes and then attracted by calls from afar, departed.  I could have muttered, but life is like that.

Here are a few samples from the day.

First Light. No sunshine so high ISO with a touch of noise, but rather like the muted colours

The families have been busy with a  couple of young ones waiting for their next meal

Feeding is such busy work and some attention to costume detail is needed

And there is time to sit for a portrait

Already for the Nat Geo shot, and we press the shutter as it passes the dragonfly, and …..  blank—Battery is Flat.

Will I or won’t I?  A young one came out of the hole a few times before being encouraged to take to wing.  We wondered if it might be for the first time.

So this is the outside world.  Do I really want to do this?

Airborne. Perhaps for the first time?

Colophon:  This page is produced with MarsEdit 4. A Mac software for making WordPress pages.  I’m hoping that once I get running with it, that I might be able to be a bit more regular in production as I can write off-line and then upload when convenient.  Videos are stored on my Flickr site. Hidden from general view, and comments closed.



7 thoughts on “Inside the World of Bee-eaters

  1. Fabulous images and video, David.
    Some days are just like, that changeable light and flat batteries!
    I should remember to take the back up camera to do some video work when out birding!


  2. A beautiful collection of Bee-eater shots David, some of the best I have seen, and the juveniles top it off as a bonus! Good light adjustment and beautiful true colour capture. What great find, we do not see bee-eaters around here, but have to go west. Possibly the heat is driving them further south this year.


    1. Hi AB, they are an elusive, almost “exotic” little bird. Perhaps its the superb colour set that makes them so enchanting.
      We had spent a few days with the birds and knew that fledging would be close, but didn’t know we’d see two of them off!

      They do visit down this way most years, and are regular nesting in some areas quite close to home, so its not an unusual occurence.


  3. G’day David, the photos are great, despite all the adversities and the story, well… amusing (sorry). I had identical situation with the black cloud on Friday and I know the feeling. Now I’m off to watch the videos.
    Thanks and good luck (with pocketful of fully charged batteries) next time,


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