Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Eye on Life

Broad interest online magazine


A mega rarity!

What a day! Who would have thought that by the middle of the day, my son and I would have had the privilege of seeing a small flock of White-throated Bee-eaters in our garden in Kommetjie. As a novice birder (just more than a year of birding and photography), he has developed a keen ear for bird calls and knows instantly when he hears a new call. We had spent some time observing the pair of Fork-tailed Drongos that recently moved into the area teaching their youngster the ropes, and enjoying their relaxed presence on our deck at the feeder (perhaps looking to catch a bee or two). This in itself was enough excitement for the day and so it was back to admin at the computer.

“Bring the camera!” That means something important has landed in the almost dead gum tree nearby – our magic tree, which is a favourite perch for every common resident and exotic visitor alike – and so I rushed said camera into his waiting hands. He zoomed in and the familiar machine-gun action ensued as multiple photos of a bird were racked up on the memory card. “It’s a bee-eater! About five of them!”

That meant I had to run around like a headless chicken looking for my P900, a much more manageable size than the D500 with 200-500mm lens. Not even knowing what kind of bee-eaters we were looking at, it was a frenzy of photography as they flitted among the trees, two of them alighting on the telephone wire to obligingly pose in perfect lighting to record this momentous occasion. Soon the evidence was out on social media and the twitchers started to respond. Much excitement as these birds have only been recorded 25 times in Southern Africa, with only a handful having been twitched. Such an honour to have them in our garden! It remains to be seen whether anyone will ever see them again, but you can be sure we will be watching!

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