Bee-eater turns dragon slayer
Another dragonfly comes to a colourful end in Tyto today. Haven't observed great numbers of such large prey being taken by Rainbow Bee-eaters. Dragonflies are usually too quick and alert. But not this one.
Also surprising was the speed with which the bird swallowed the dragonfly. No thrashing against ground or branch to remove the wings, which Willie Wagtails and some other insectivores reject. No, rather like an egret with a fish, the bird speedily manouevred the dragonfly into a head-first position inside its bill. Three fast gulps and it was gone, wings and all.
Bit like the bee-eaters themselves. In past years there have often been flocks of 50-60 birds bursting from the paperbarks in a gorgeous explosion of hues. No sign of such numbers and spectacle in recent months. Most often these days three or four birds appear briefly and just as quickly vanish.
Pulling an even faster vanishing trick today were a pair of White-browed Crake chicks. Saw the two for a split second in front of the hide before an alarm call from a parent bird brought instant disappearance by the small black youngsters. Too quick for any pictures.
Almost impossibly quick also is their production. Their habitat was totally under water five and again four weeks ago. Incubation is about 21 days. It's certain many crakes' nests were flooded. Twice in a week. But some must have laid again immediately the waters dropped.
Little wonder Tyto's chock-full of crakes year-round. I suspect the Comb-crested Jacanas are equally swift to recover from a bit of excess water. But that's just a quick observation as excuse to run another Jacana picture. Still trying to get really close!