Sunday, July 20, 2014

European Roller and Bee-eater

European Roller (Coracias garrulus) is so beautiful - in flight and perched.  It is common in grassy farmland with scattered trees.  We saw this bird nearly everyday.  The roller is a cavity nester and below it is occupying one of the monitored nest boxes. 

Even seeing the bird perched on an overhead utility wire is spectacular, but in flight it's really breathtaking.  Then the color pattern on the back of the bird is in view.  The photo below is the best I could do.

On-line images can be found that really reveal the beautiful feather patterning and coloring on the back of the Roller.  One in particular, by a photographer named Margo Coetzee, shows this in a really spectacular way.

The bird above and below was perched on a utility wire not too high up and very near the road.  The only way I could get this photo was to use the car as a blind.  Otherwise, there is no getting near this bird.  It will flush in a blink.

It's food are the large insects, grasshoppers and beetles, that also occupy the grassy habitat.  The bill has a tiny hook on the tip that makes it seem shrikey but it's not a shrike.  One can never see too many Rollers.  Just not possible. 

The bird above is a dreadful photo of my life Garganey (Anas querquedula).  The bird never really did take it's head out of the water, but the white crescent over it's eye is still visible.  From photos, I think of the Garganey as one of the most beautiful ducks.

The habitat was beautiful.

Another kestrel in it's nest box.  This box was placed well away from the road.

I made multiple attempts to get a photo of a perched Stonechat (Saxicola torquatus), but it's another easy flusher.  The Stonechat above was perched near the edge of the road.  I missed the perched shot but got this instead which I liked just as well.

European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) were nesting in a banked sand-pit adjacent to the parking lot of a national park entrance.  Again, no chance for perched shots other than the dreadful attempt of the two perched on the snag within the copse near the sand-pit.  

But they flew out from their perches over the grassy area and one came close enough to get these photos.

We didn't see Bee-eaters as often as Rollers, but they were still plentiful and their habit of nesting in colonies meant that when one was seen many were seen.

The habitat adjacent to the sand-pit where the Bee-eaters were nesting. 

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