Walking down by the Avon this morning there was a lot of commotion. A steady “prrrp-prrrp” sound followed by a flash of bright colour. Scanning the trees I found what I was looking for in the branches of a big old dead gum tree. A male rainbow bee eater bashing a large insect on the branch till it was dead so it could take it to its young brood. On further inspection I noticed that there was a holding pattern going on with mum and dad taking it in turns to take food to their ever demanding young.
A further shufti and I find the burrow and settle myself in to watch the parents fly in the food supplies. It was non stop, no let up at all. First off we see dad make a trip.
As soon as he is clear it’s mum turn.
All pictures taken with a Panasonic Lumix G85 with Panasonic Leica Vario Elmar 100-400mm f4-6.3 lens.
Below is a short video clip containing footage of the birds and some more stills.
There are quite a number of them along the Avon River here in York. They migrate from Indonesia, New Guinea and northern Australia to avoid the cyclone season and come to breed during our summer. They nest in burrows which they dig and I discovered them quite by chance. While walking the dog I noticed these brightly coloured birds literally nose diving into the ground. At first I thought that the bird must have been hurt and went over to look for it, but I found nothing. Over the next few weeks I watched several others repeat the behaviour so looking carefully at the embankment I found several holes which turned out to be their burrows. So ever since I’ve been trying to photograph them.
So far I’ve only managed to photograph them when they perch. They feed on flying insects and their acrobatic manoeuvring while chasing their prey are beyond my photographic abilities. Luckily I’ve noticed that they tend to favour a particular tree de jour as a lookout and they repeatedly return between sorties so it has just been a case of walking along the river finding that day’s favoured tree and waiting.
Just before Christmas my wife and I decided to mount a mission early one morning to observe them bringing food to the chicks that have hatched. We must have been a strange sight for any passers-by – my wife in her camp chair with binoculars aimed at an earth bank and me loitering in the foliage under a tree with a camera and very long lens. We spent a couple of delightful hours watching and photographing before heading off for morning tea.