WildZests: Rendezvous With The Blue Tailed Bee Eaters

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rendezvous With The Blue Tailed Bee Eaters

BTBE Landing Shot

As the summer started to set in, there were numerous reports of the Blue Tailed Bee Eaters flocking on the outskirts of Mysore for their annual nesting period. These birds make their nesting holes in the soft sand found alongside the banks  of the Cauvery and can be found in large numbers from March to July. It's a pleasure to watch their courtship displays and feeding rituals. The season starts with the males trying to impress the females with their catch and tossing it around - an exchange of prey would mean acceptance. What follows is the nesting period ie. laying eggs and hatching, followed by feeding the young until they take their first flight and start hunting for themselves.

Blue Tailed Bee Eater With A Catch

In the colony, there are always fights for dominance amongst the males, first to get a partner, then to get the best nesting spots, or even to get a specific perch etc. So it's quite entertaining to just sit around and watch the bird behavior and possibly document some of that on camera. The nesting grounds are now informally protected against human destruction, but there is a lot more than can be done. You can see how these birds are jostling for space amongst growing human encroachment, its a pity. There is cattle and donkeys wandering nearby the nesting sites, and there are laundry guys washing and drying stuff just 40-50m away from these birds.

Blue Tailed Bee Eater

From a birding standpoint, this is another one of those arm-chair birding spots where all you need to do is maintain sufficient distance from the nesting pits, setup a tripod and wait for the action. All you need is patience and perseverance along with some pre-visualization of what kind of image you'd want to capture. There is a lot of story-telling images that can be captured here showcasing the social behaviors of these birds. One should take care to maintain silence at all times and avoid too much of movement so as to not disturb the birds.

BTBE Landing Shot

I actually made a couple of trips this season, and each time, there was enough drama and action that I could capture. Next season I would want to go a bit early and witness the courtship displays as well. 

Blue Tailed Bee Eater

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