Saturday, July 30, 2005

The day the Bee-eaters got eaten...

It was a sad day... The bad news came out on BirdGuides at 10.46am:
"the nest was predated by Foxes last night"
The fourth-ever breeding attempt by Bee-eaters in Britain was over. A week after the RSPB opened its Aren't birds brilliant! watchpoint at Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire, to cater for hordes of Bee-eater pilgrims, they were preparing to pack away the burger stand, the telescopes and the fluffy Bee-eater toys, and shut up shop.

There was a mildly deflated atmosphere on the banks of the River Wye by the time we arrived. The babies were gone but the adults were still around, perching on the riverside trees, hawking for insects and visiting what remained of the nest-hole.

At one point, the pair perched together on a branch and some interesting behaviour went on. One bird crouched horizontally (as if being submissive prior to mating) but the other bird made short flights, returning to the perch and giving its mate a sharp peck! Analyse that one...

When the Bee-eaters weren't showing, there were plenty of other birds around to keep the punters entertained. The best of these was probably the above juvenile male Redstart, which perched close by on a fence.

At various points, the Bee-eaters were joined on their favoured trees by Kingfisher and Great Spotted Woodpecker, with Little Egret flying along the river, Buzzards calling overhead and a Hobby causing havoc among the martins. Swallows darted low over the meadows and an assortment of finches and buntings lined the hedges.

Many people were just as interested in watching Blue Tits as Bee-eaters. A good variety of birds but the stars of the show were on their way out...

digiscoped photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x or 20-60x eyepieces

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