A closer look at the Chestnut-headed Bee-eater

posted in: Bee-eaters, Morphology-Develop., Rescue | 1

“Sometimes where we watch birds depends on providence. I had finished observing the nesting Yellow Bitterns (Ixobrychus sinensis) and decided to explore more of the Tambun Interior area on foot. This is a vast area with many hidden nooks and crannies. Many individuals have large ‘estates’ here to raise poultry, do fish farming, etc in one of the most picturesque of environments.

“I met an ‘average looking’ gentleman on an old motorbike who took a liking to me and surprisingly invited me to his farm (on the back of his bike). A huge area with three large ponds, one lake size, surrounded by towering limestone hills on two sides – an ideal wetlands. He allowed me to wander his ‘estate’ freely.

“He had put up fine netting to protect his vegetable farm from the livestock he was breeding and I spotted a Chestnut-headed Bee-eater (Merops leschenaulti), also known as Bay-Headed Bee-eater, caught in one low section, just half a meter off the ground – probably swooped down for prey as they usually do.

“It was struggling until I approached, then became calm. Took a minute to grab some images and then proceed to free it. Fortunately the netting was fine and I could break it with my fingers. It fortunately appeared unharmed.

“I then had a gorgeous bee-eater in hand with no way to photograph it (too far my vehicle to get my kit lens, reluctant to walk back to the farm proper and ask the foreign workers for help as concerned that might push to keep it).

“Decided to try locking my lens at 18mm (2.7×18 = 49mm) and take images with one hand (no flash). The postings show my efforts to document the anatomy.

“After 3-4 minutes I released the bird and it flew right between my legs as it took off skyward.”

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Tambun Interior, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Fish farming, ex-mining pools, limestone hills nearby
6th August 2012

  1. Gretchen

    Lovely close-ups showing the feather structures! Indeed providential: you did well given the limits of being short handed and the bird was fortunately set free.

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