Tag Archives: European Bee-eater

Prey and spectrum of food of European Bee-eater

BienenfresserThe name already reveals part of the food spectrum of the magnificent birds. Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) lead a short, eventful life in Germany. The colorful birds only arrive in our latitudes in the second half of May. Bee-eaters feed exclusively on insects, specializing in the hunting of large and medium-sized flying insects. Bees, bumblebees, beetles, wasps, dragonflies and butterflies are among their main prey. In order to hunt them efficiently, the Bee-eater needs a “perch”, an elevated twig, from which it can start hunting. Birds’ habitats therefore always include old trees with bare branches or tall shrubs. In order to avoid stings from its defensive prey, the Bee-eater subjects its victims to a truly murderous treatment. Before devouring them, he kills non-toxic insects by knocking them on a branch several times. Or he occasionally throws them in the air and catches them again. European Bee-eaters always grab “poison-biting” insects on the abdomen and hits them once or twice on a branch before rubbing the end of their abdomen on a branch. This is how the poison is drawn  out of bees or wasps and is removed thereafter. After a few more hits on the head, the insect is finally ready to eat. Who likes to risk a stab in the esophagus?

Because of its food spectrum, the bee-eater relies on a warm climate. Over the centuries European Bee-eaters has continued to expand its distribution area to the north. But it is an eventful story of expansion and withdrawal. The Bee-eater is currently on the rise Continue reading Prey and spectrum of food of European Bee-eater

Photographing European Bee-eater: How and Where

BienenfresserA thin branch in the most beautiful evening light and on it a European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster). This is an image many nature photographers want to shoot. This raises the question of course of what the Bee-eater’s habits and preferences are. If you take a closer look at Bee-eater photography, you ask yourself e.g. how a favorite habitat must look like, what a perfect breeding site must be like and which season is suitable at all.

Part of the solution to the problem is already solved by the food spectrum of the magnificent bird. Merops apiaster live a very flight-intensive life and feed exclusively on big  insects. The bird is specialized in the hunting of large and medium-sized flying insects. Bees, wasps, bumblebees, beetles, dragonflies and butterflies are among their main prey. In this respect, you will find more European Bee-eater where these main prey insects are found in large numbers. Furthermore, the Bee-eater is dependent on a warm climate due to its food source.

In order to be able to hunt the flying insects efficiently, European Bee-eaters need a “perch”, an elevated stig, from which it can start to hunt. Birds’ habitats therefore always include old trees with bare branches or tall shrubs. Continue reading Photographing European Bee-eater: How and Where

Little Bee-eaters and a bridal gift

ZwergspintWatching and photographing the colorful Bee-eater is always a great experience. The (European) Bee-eater (Merops apiaster), which also occurs in Germany, is only one representative of a whole family, which has its stronghold in the tropics, especially in Africa. A common representative in Kenya is the Little Bee-eater (Merops pusillus), which occurs in a large part of sub-Saharan Africa. I was especially happy that I was able to photograph this Bee-eater on the approach of the branch and that it also took along its prey, a fat hoverfly. The courtship is a very special ritual between the Bee-eaters. The male brings his beloved a bride gift in the form of a fat wasp, bee or dragonfly. Bee-eaters, according to their name, like to present striped insects. At that moment in the Taita Hills Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern Kenya in October she, the female, sits for a while next to or behind him and does not appear immediately interested. Perhaps as a bride, she is waiting for the male to offer her the wedding gift even more invitingly. She adorns herself, but Continue reading Little Bee-eaters and a bridal gift

Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha

The Spanish province of Valencia was visited in summer. One reason was to relax for a week. The second argument was to get a feel for avian delights of an area of the country normally thought of in mainstream tourism terms. As a habitual visitor to the more well-known birding destination of Andalucía and Portugal, I wasn’t expecting too much but was enjoyably surprised by the numbers and variety of Valencia’s avian inhabitants. One day I headed for the steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha. This area is blessed with an incredibly diverse range of habitats and excellent birding sites.

A stop at the tiny Bonete Municipal Cemetery en route meant we could search a small lake and a few trees, giving us great intimate views of Egyptian Vulture (Neophron pernocterus), Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica), Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula), a lonesome Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina) and – best of all – a yellow-and-black male Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus). European Bee-eaters (Merops apiaster) are common in these lowland Continue reading Steppe habitat just outside Castilla de la Mancha

Sooty falcons – killers on the islands of the Red Sea

SchieferfalkeA blast from the blue evening sky. Brown feathers in the air. The collision does take only a fracture of a second. Then the spectacle is already over and gone and a bird of prey with long, slender wings and a long tail has disappeard in the stands of low mangroves. Another migratory songbird has finished its life. A Sooty Falcon has made his job again not far from its breeding ground. These falcons start breeding in fall between August and November to make use of the bird migration in fall along the red sea coast.

The Sooty Falcon (Falco concolor) is the killer of passerine birds on the islands along the red sea coast of Egypt. When the Sooty Falcon recognizes a bird flying overhead, the Sooty falcon rapidly takes to the air, accelerating above its prey before making a low dive and seizing it in its talons. The adult birds with its mainly uniform Continue reading Sooty falcons – killers on the islands of the Red Sea

Fotosequenz zeigt Bienenfresser mit Fledermaus

Bienenfresser (europ.)In einem Artikel bei Birdguides.com wurde die bemerkenswerte Fotosequenz gezeigt bei der ein Bienenfresser (europ.) (Merops apiaster) in Israel offenbar eine Fledermaus erbeutet hatte und diese verzehrfertig aufbereitet.

Am 26. Juni 2015 war der glückliche Fotograf, Shuki Cheled, auf Vogelbeobachtungstour mit einem niederländischen Freund. In der Nähe des Dorfes Nahala begegnete den beiden ein Bienenfresser, der etwas erstaunlich Großes, Braunes in seinem Schnabel hielt. Der Vogel flog schließlich näher und die beiden waren erstaunt zu sehen, dass die Beute tatsächlich eine Fledermaus war. Die Fledermaus war lebendig und flatterte auch mit den Flügeln. Bei der Beute handelte es wahrscheinlich um eine Weißrandfledermaus (Pipistrellus kuhlii).

Im Verlauf der Fotosequenz wird deutlich Continue reading Fotosequenz zeigt Bienenfresser mit Fledermaus

European Bee-eaters in Bulgaria

European Bee-eater at branchI am just back from a trip to Bulgaria. The purpose was to photograph European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) during a busy young feeding period. Honestly this was one of the main target of the trip. The birds had arrived in Bulgaria for quite a while. Thus feeding of the young were almost finished. Now the parents were feeding the young outside their breeding tube. First I was a bit disappointed, but found new challenges and still had good photo opportunities of these incredibly adorable birds.

I decided to spent at least four days with these colourful birds. Thanks to the help and advice of a friend who worked in the area as a nature conservation ranger one year ago, I easily found a good site and decided to pitch a tented hide. This on top of an escarpment of a sand pit. There were also sandbanks next to the Bee-eaters colony. But the perspective on top was best. To my delight 2 or sometimes even 3,4,5 birds were landing on a perch, flying away, landing again. What a spectacle. There was plenty of action.

As the Bee-eaters are more active feeding early in the morning, I decided to come back at dawn. This time I set – up my hide before the sunrise and to my big relieve birds started to turn up again with the first light. As the name suggests bees are on the top of the menu for bee – eaters, but they are chasing dragonflies, Continue reading European Bee-eaters in Bulgaria

Die Nachtigall: ein Gesangeskünstler am Ungerberg – Österreich

NachtigallEigentlich bin ich auf der Suche nach Bienenfressern (Merops apiaster)an einer Lehmwand am Neusiedler See. In der Nähe der Ortschaft Weiden am See befindet sich der Ungerberg, der sowohl eine Lehmwand aufweist, als auch dicht bewachsene Hecken, u.a. mit Robinie und Weißdorn. Ein kurzes ratternd-knarrender Laut begleitet mich, als ich die Hecken auf dem Weg zur Lehmwand passiere. Auf dem Rückweg von – erfolgreicher – Bienenfresser-Fotografier ist an den Stellen, die die ungastlichen Knarzlaute aufwiesen, ein wunderschön, melodischer und Continue reading Die Nachtigall: ein Gesangeskünstler am Ungerberg – Österreich

Fototrip nach Bulgarien: dem Bienenfresser auf der Spur

BienenfresserBienenfresser (Merops apiaster) sind sicher eine der begehrtesten Fotografierobjekte bei den in Deutschland vorkommenden Vogelarten. Zwar gibt es inzwischen vermehrt Ansiedlungen auch in der Mitte Deutschlands, so in Sachsen-Anhalt oder auch in der Pfalz, vom Kaiserstuhl ganz zu schweigen, doch sind die Brutplätze zu Recht geheim um die niedrigen Bestandszahlen nicht zu gefährden. Ganz anders verhält sich das in den südlichen und südöstlichen Ländern Europas.

Bulgarien ist für die Vogelfotografie geradezu Continue reading Fototrip nach Bulgarien: dem Bienenfresser auf der Spur

Hainburg an der Donau: Bienenfresser an der Brutröhre

BienenfresserSchon ein süd-östliches Flair weist die Stadt Hainburg, direkt an der Donau liegend, auf. Die Stadt zwischen Wien und Bratislava in unmittelbarer Nähe zur slowakischen Grenze hat aber auch einige Naturschönheiten zu bieten. Eine dieser Kostbarkeiten befindet sich nicht weit von der Donau am Hundsheimer Berg. In der Nähe der Ortschaft befindet sich ein Hide, ein versteckter Continue reading Hainburg an der Donau: Bienenfresser an der Brutröhre

Bienenfresser am Neusiedler See

BienenfresserEin südliches Flair geben die wunderschönen Vögel aus der Familie der Racken einer jeden Landschaft. Noch dazu ist der farbenprächtige Vogel ist ein wahrer Flugakrobat. Bienenfresser graben jedes Jahr neue Bruthöhlen in Löß- und sandige Lehmsteilwände. Hier lassen sich die Bienenfresser im späten Frühjahr und im Sommer am besten beobachten. Ein Muß für Continue reading Bienenfresser am Neusiedler See

Irish Bird Trip to the Frankfurt area in Germany; 16thMay-19th May 2014

Black KiteWe flew in from Kerry airport Ireland and landed at Hahn to met by Johannes Ferdinand from Bird-Lens our bird guide.  During our stay we had no rain, some cloud in the mornings and plenty of sunshine all day. We saw a total of 113 birds including lifers Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris), Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix), Middle Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius), Eurasian Eagle-Owl (Bubo bubo), and adult Black-necked or Eared Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis), European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca) and Bluethroat (Luscinia svecica). Johannes had organised our trip to Continue reading Irish Bird Trip to the Frankfurt area in Germany; 16thMay-19th May 2014