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Carmine Delight

07 January 2014

If ever there was a reason to visit the Selous, for myself as a bit of a birder it would have to be this, the Northern Carmine Bee-eater. There is another sub-species, namely the Southern Carmine Bee-eater that I had become so fond of seeing during the wet months in Botswana. These birds are intra-African migrants, that feed predominantly on bees but, is accustomed to feeding on other juicy insects. The Carmine, as all other bee-eaters are elegant flyers taking insects with ease on the wing. This however does make them a difficult subject for any photographers trying to capture them inflight as they are swift and agile.

We had our first sighting of this beauty on the 5th of December last year. Since then more and more have been showing themselves quite often in flocks of 8-12. They have recently been flocking around our vehicles as we drive through the beautiful terrain up near the lakes. The vehicle kicks up all sorts of insects, mostly grasshoppers which are a favourite food of theirs. This is somewhat of a symbiotic relationship between bee-eater and man, as the bee-eaters have a feast while we drive past and those of us in the safari car get an incredible experience with the Carmines buzzing around feeding.

These beauties start making their way south after breeding in a narrow belt across Africa from Mauritania to Eritrea in September. Here in the Selous is very much close to the most southern place in Africa that they will travel and stay here till sometime in April before making the return trip north to their native homeland. We wish them a bountiful stay and many happy returns in years to come.

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