One of our most colourful birds
GREETINGS all! Here we go with another issue of the Chirp... here is our “bird of the week”.
The white-fronted bee-eater is a well-known bird up north, being one of the most regularly-encountered and popular birds from the Northern Cape, ranging up into Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and all the way into Zimbabwe, northern Botswana and further up into Africa.
However, this bird hasn’t always been a “regular” resident in the Eastern Cape.
Over the years they have slowly been establishing themselves in our area. The first white-fronted bee-eater I ever saw was at Table Farm, just about 10km beyond Grahamstown.
Since then I have seen them at Carlisle Bridge (Great Fish River) and near Colchester (Sunday’s River). Here they have become resident and their range seems to be spreading outward from these localities.
There have been recent sightings at Cannon Rocks, Port Alfred and also up the Bushmans River.
To those of you who might not be familiar, it is one of our most colourful birds. The forehead and upper part of the throat is white, separated by a broad black line through the eye.
The lower part of the throat is bright red, with the chest being a light golden-brown. The lower chest fades into a deep blue. The wings and upper tail are green. So one can say the white-fronted bee-eater contains the colours of the South African flag!
The long, slightly de-curved bill is very useful for catching their food – bees and other insects. They do this by perching, watching, waiting... then making graceful flap-and-glide flights up in the air. They nest in colonies wherever they can find sufficient large sand banks, where they burrow out their nesting holes.
So, folks, that’s it for today. Please remember I am available for local bird-watching tours in the area. You can contact me on 072-314-0069 for more information. Until next time... enjoy your birding!