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The Local European Bee-Eater Colony Is Now Huge!

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Almost every evening (and early morning) the local European Bee-Eater colony come to feed in and around the Quinta.

This evening I sat on the side of a nearby banking, amongst the overgrowth but certainly not hidden and was given a spectacular display of acrobatics.

If I was to guess how many are now in this colony, I would say at least 50 if not more, it seems to have been a successful breeding year for them!

I love the colours on this back-lit shot with one changing direction to catch a Bee.

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📷 Nikon D850, AF-S 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6 VR @ 400mm, 1/3200sec, f/8, ISO320

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A Local Bee-Eater Nest Is Now Very Active

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After the disappointment of finding a destroyed Bee-Eater nest (see HERE) and of course, one dead and one rescued nestling, I took a look at another location where there are nests and watched a pair actively returning to the nest over and over with food for the young inside. Whilst the birds are digging their nests and mating, I (mostly) leave them alone as not to cause them to flee and abandon, but now they young to feed I will watch and shoot from a safe distance.

The great news is that it has a very natural hide for me courtesy of the river bank. I look forward over the next few days capturing some shots, although the very unseasonable cool and cloudy weather may put a stop to it!

Here is a shot I got of one of the parents leaving the nest.


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Nature Being Nature Is Tough Sometimes

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A few days ago we found a very young European Bee-Eater, when I say very young, it was still a nestling. The new feathers still had their “straw” coverings.

This was confusing as European Bee-Eaters nest in deep tunnels and the young shouldn’t be out of the nest.

The bird is now in the care of the guys at RIAS in Olhão (RIAS website) and if all goes well, we can visit to see the release.

However, the confusion has been resolved.

Unfortunately, one of the nests has been dug open. I don’t really know what has done this, possibly a Fox, Marten, Weasel or Polecat.


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Update On The Local European Bee-Eaters

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You may think that I’ve gone a bit quiet on the local Bee-Eater colony, but I am still keeping an eye on them, however, I’m leaving them in peace to finish off their nesting tunnels before I spend more time amongst them.

This afternoon I was working on something new at “A Rocha”, an area on top of a large rocky lump that I leave to the wildlife. I have spotted some Rock Buntings and I’m planning some shots so was setting a nice scene around a small water pond I built some time ago. The Bee-Eaters were all around hunting and I wondered why they didn’t seem too bothered about my presence. I moved a little closer to a spot where I can over look a tree they usually rest on and they didn’t seem bothered at all that I was there. I was standing in direct view and they happily carried on with their activities. This is a great afternoon spot for watching and photographing them, so will plan a session here in the near future. I think they have almost finished their tunnels now and will soon be moving in and I’m looking forward to getting close up to them.

Although I was close, I was only armed with my 80-400mm so was a little short on reach, but at least I got these shots to show how great an angle it is!


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Bee-Eaters Visit The Quinta Along With Cirl Buntings

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I was sitting enjoying the end of the hot sunny day when a large group of European Bee-Eaters came to hunt in an area next to the Quinta. I grabbed the camera and hid behind a bush, I wasn’t as close as I needed to be, but with a bright purple T-shirt on, it wouldn’t have been a good idea. I did manage to get a male coming into land next to his female partner. The early evening setting sun lit up his wings beautifully.

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The Nesting Site Of The Local European Bee-Eaters

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This morning I awoke to thick hill mist but knew as soon as the sun peaked above the ridges it would burn off quickly. I didn’t really have a plan with so much going on around the Quinta. I knew the Bee-Eaters wouldn’t be around until the mist completely cleared so headed briefly down to the Kingfisher perch. I stayed for an hour but none appeared and soon enough I heard the Bee-Eaters waking up.

I headed to the location where they have started to build their nest tunnels and set myself up inside a large bush camouflaged out of sight. These long tunnels keep the eggs (can be up to 8!) safe from predators. It’ll take them a while to dig the tunnel in preparation for laying at the beginning of June.
I tried something new this morning as not to scare them away. I used the Nikon D850 in live view mode with silent shooting. The D850 actually is totally silent in this mode. I’m not a big fan of the D850’s live view autofocus and rarely trust it, but it seemed to do the job OK, albeit not as pin sharp as it should be.

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Male European Bee Eater - Abelharuco (macho) - Merops apiaster
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