Many people ask what the best time of year to come to the bush is, and depending who you speak to you will get a different answer every time. The past week, combined with my interest in both birds and photography, has served to remind me as to why I love summer here.

As many of you may be aware, the Greater Kruger National Park, of which Londolozi is a part, received an enormous amount of rain and suffered some flooding in January. Fortunately the floods in our area were not as bad as last year’s, which occurred over exactly the same period. What the rain does inevitably bring in the aftermath of the destruction though, is new life. From grasses, to flowers, frogs, insects and more, it is as if a giant alarm clock has gone off and all the small creatures have woken up.

Some of the first of the predatory creatures to benefit from this bounty are the birds, who gather en mass to feast on the emerging insects. It was with this in mind that some of the more office bound staff set out to try and capture some pictures of the various bee eater species, as well as a few other birds, that frequent Londolozi. They are some of the most beautiful and colorful of all the birds found here, and sometimes gather in large quantities when there are insects in abundance. Photographing birds, particularly birds in flight, is an exercise in patience. These shots were taken over three consecutive afternoons. I have included the settings for each picture for those who are interested.

Two beautifully colored White-Fronted Bee-Eaters sit on an open perch, keeping a lookout for any flying morsels (f8,ISO800, 1/1000 sec)

Two beautifully colored White-Fronted Bee-Eaters sit on an open perch, keeping a lookout for any flying morsels (f8, ISO 800, 1/1000 sec)

A sub-adult Carmine Bee-Eater steadies itself in the wind. Their full adult plumage is surprisingly even more vibrant than this

A sub-adult Carmine Bee-Eater steadies itself in the wind. Their full adult plumage is surprisingly even more vibrant than this (f5, ISO 640, 1/3200 sec)

It's not just the smaller birds that partake in insect eating. Many of the bigger raptors, like this juvenile Yellow-Billed Kite, include insects, particularly termite alates, as an important part of their diet-up to 50% for some eagles at certain times of the year

It’s not just the smaller birds that partake in insect eating. Many of the bigger raptors, like this juvenile Yellow-Billed Kite, include insects, particularly termite alates, as an important part of their diet-up to 50% for some eagles at certain times of the year (f4.5, ISO 800, 1/4000 sec)

Clamping down on the wings of a Guinea Fowl Butterfly, this White Fronted Bee-Eater produces a small cloud of powder from the butterflies wings. This powder is in fact a collection of tiny scales that coat and protect the wing. Interestingly, butterflies and moths belong to the taxonomic oder Lepidoptera, meaning "scaly wings".

Clamping down on the wings of a Guinea Fowl Butterfly, this White Fronted Bee-Eater produces a small cloud of powder from the butterflies wings. This powder is in fact a collection of tiny scales that coat and protect the wing. Interestingly, butterflies and moths belong to the taxonomic oder Lepidoptera, meaning “scaly wings”. (f6.3, ISO 800, 1/2000 sec)

Here two Carmine Bee-Eaters illustrate the changing phases of plumage-from juvenile at the back, to sub-adult in the foreground

Here two Carmine Bee-Eaters illustrate the changing phases of plumage-from juvenile at the back, to sub-adult in the foreground (f5.6, ISO 500, 1/1250 sec)

Bee-Eaters naturally get their name from eating bees, although this is not an exclusive diet. In order to remove a potential sting they beat their prey against a branch first

Bee-Eaters naturally get their name from eating bees, although this is not an exclusive diet. In order to remove a potential sting and stun their prey, they beat it against a branch first. (f4.5, ISO 500, 1/1000 sec)

After removing any potential sting, the insect is tossed in the air in order to re-position it for an easier passage to the stomach

After removing any potential sting, the insect is tossed in the air in order to re-position it for an easier passage to the stomach (f4.5, ISO 500, 1/800 sec)

Here a White Fronted Bee-Eater exhibits the same behaviour, tossing a Guinea Fowl Butterfly down the hatch.

Here a White Fronted Bee-Eater exhibits the same behaviour, tossing a Guinea Fowl Butterfly down the hatch.(f8, ISO 800, 1/1250 sec)

Another bird to join the party was a European Roller. These birds migrate to Europe and Northern Africa during the Southern Hemisphere winter, with Spain, Morocco and even Poland being popular destinations

Another bird to join the party was a European Roller. These birds migrate to Europe and Northern Africa during the Southern Hemisphere winter, with Spain, Morocco and even Poland being popular destinations (f6.3, ISO 800, 1/1250 sec)

Capturing birds in flight requires an enormous amount of patience and the willingness to take 100 photos and perhaps get one you are happy with. Here, good quality equipment is a great asset and you need to ensure you have fast shutter speeds to freeze the movement. This was taken with a shutter speed of 1/1250 of a second (F8, ISO 800)

Capturing birds in flight requires an enormous amount of patience and the willingness to take 100 photos and perhaps get one you are happy with. Here, good quality equipment is a great asset and you need to ensure you have fast shutter speeds to freeze the movement.(F8, ISO 800, 1/1250 sec)

A Carmine Bee-Eater sets of  in search of prey. Insectivorous birds will often "hawk"-whereby they set off from, and return to, the same perch time and again in search of food.

A Carmine Bee-Eater sets of in search of prey. Insectivorous birds will often “hawk”-whereby they set off from, and return to, the same perch time and again in search of food. This photo illustrates the fine margins with photographing birds in flight-just slightly out, the point of focus is on the tail, meaning it is unfortunately more in focus than the head. (f5, ISO 640, 1/3000 sec)

Operations Manager, Duncan Maclarty, who many of our past guests may have met, captured this image with an even fast shutter speed of 1/3200 of a second (F5.6, ISO500)

Operations Manager Duncan Maclarty, who many of our past guests may have met, captured this image with an even faster shutter speed of 1/3200 of a second, freezing the action perfectly (F5.6, ISO500)

General Manager Stoff Kane-Bermann took this shot of a Carmine Bee-Eater that has just caught a meal. It illustrates the importance of the tail in being able to make tight turns or remain stable in strong wind-here it is turned almost vertical. (f8, ISO250, 1/800 sec)

General Manager Chris Kane-Berman took this shot of a Carmine Bee-Eater that had just caught a meal. It illustrates the importance of the birds’ tail in being able to make tight turns or remain stable in strong wind-here it’s tail is turned almost vertical. (f8, ISO250, 1/800 sec)

The European Bee-Eater, which has similar summer destinations to the European Roller, is the most abundant of the bee-eater species found here in summer, yet seems to be the most difficult to photograph. (Chris Kane-Bermann, f4, ISO400, 1/5000 sec)

The European Bee-Eater, which has similar summer destinations to the European Roller, is the most abundant of the bee-eater species found here in summer, yet seems to be the most difficult to photograph. (Chris Kane-Bermann, f4, ISO400, 1/5000 sec)

The smallest, and for some most beautiful, bee-eater is the aptly names Little Bee-Eater. Unlike it's European cousin, it is resident all year round at Londolozi. (Chris Kane-Berman, f8, ISO 640, 1/1250 sec)

The smallest, and for some most beautiful, bee-eater is the aptly named Little Bee-Eater. Unlike its European cousin, it is resident all year round at Londolozi. (Chris Kane-Berman, f8, ISO 640, 1/1250 sec)

As mentioned previously, it's not just the bees they eat-here a protein-rich grasshopper is eaten by a White Fronted Bee-Eater (Chris Kane-Berman, f8, ISO320, 1/500 sec)

As mentioned previously, it’s not just the bees they eat-here a protein-rich grasshopper is eaten by a White Fronted Bee-Eater (Chris Kane-Berman, f8, ISO320, 1/500 sec)

Filed under Wildlife

About the Author

David Dampier

Financial Manager

David left the bright lights of Johannesburg and a promising career as a chartered accountant to join the Londolozi Ranging team in 2009. After three years spent as a guide, during which he built up a formidable reputation as one of Londolozi's top ...

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28 Comments

on After the Floods

Geri Potter
Guest

To date, I think these are the most stunning pictures you have shared! I love the Big Cats so much, but the colors and detail of these birds is extraordinary! Certainly cheers up the bleak, January day here, in Massachusetts! Thank you!

Tony Goldman
Guest

Spectacular shots,hope to get a few like them in 3 weeks!!

MJ
Guest

Thank you for the wonderful bird photos. I find it quite amazing to see the diversity in the bird world.

Sandy Johnson
Guest

Those pictures are phenomenal. Thanks for sharing them.

Bronwyn
Guest

WOW! WOW! WOW! GREAT pictures….need to get home NOW!!!

Arden Zalman
Guest

The beauty brought tears to my eyes

Judy Guffey
Guest

I’m not a ‘birder’ but these photos are spectacular. Maybe I should concentrate more on birds on my next visit?

David Dampier

Hi Judy
You are 100% right-I always find that concentrating on birds doesn’t mean you see any less of the bigger animals. Invariably it forces you to slow down and look and listen more carefully-I can’t remember how many times I have stopped for a bird and heard something (alarm call, territorial call etc) that has led us to finding a leopard or lion.

susan scott
Guest

absolutely stunning thank you!

James H
Guest

Stoffie, I think the last photo takes the cake! Awesome images, can imagine the fun that was had taking these. Just another afternoon bumble!

Sandy Hahn Ghosh
Guest

Fabulous pics! Thank you!

John O'Brien
Guest

Love `em all!!!!! Really like you’ve included camera settings. Now to disclose the kind of lens and camera type used. Again, utterly fantastic shots and nice post processing too, Excellent job overall, for sure.

David Dampier

Hi John
Thanks very much! Duncan was using a Canon 7D with a 80-200mm f2.8 lens. Chris was using a Nikon D800 with a 200-400mm f4 lens. I was using the Nikon D600 with a 300mm fixed f2.8 lens. We all used 1.4x converters from time to time as well.

Christine
Guest

Those are fantastic, david! What happened to the desk job? When we left a year ago, you were going back to finance. I had an inquiry today from a sibling with a coworker asking for safari tips. Didn’t hesitate to pass along that Londolozi is the best and only way to go! So nice to still feel connected through the blog until we hopefully make our way back someday.

David Dampier

Hi Christine
The desk job does now occupy the majority of my time, but I still try and get out on drive as much as possible-the long summer days fortunately make that a little easier to get right! Hopefully we see you back here in the not too distant future!

Jenifer Westphal
Guest

Fabulous and exciting photos. I’m remembering our time there last January – the colors of your birds in Africa are extraordinary! Thank you David!

Mary Beth Wheeler
Guest

Brilliant images! And I appreciate seeing the settings for each. I’ve been practicing with my new Canon and 100-400 lens in anticipation of our May visit to Londolozi – looks like I have a lot more practicing to do! Thanks for the motivation!!

Carol Robinson
Guest

Thanks for the WONDERFUL photography and inspiration – I think I will have to increase my ISO. Thanks for the camera info. Just love your photos – all of them!

shan and dave
Guest

Stoff and dave What a wonderful idea!!! Great photography Great information and wonderful interpretation of each shot all connected to the rythmes of Natures WELL DONE !!!

Sue Prince
Guest

Brilliant….

John Pheasant
Guest

Congratulations. Stunning shots and very interesting to see how you are using higher ISO settings to get the shutter speeds you want without quality deterioration. Can’t quite believe that some of the colours are as was — blue under-carriage feathers of the White-Fronted Bee-Eaters in the first photo and again in the fourth. Would be amazing to know that they had not been adjusted a little in post processing.

David Dampier
Guest

Hi John

Thank you very much! With most of the new DSLR cameras I find you can push ISO settings to at least ISO800 without too much noticeable noise, which really does help when you need a fast shutter speed as you say. In terms of editing, there was obviously some done as the pictures were originally taken in RAW format, but this was limited to cropping, sharpening, and some limited levels and contrast adjustments and a small amount of vibrance added-we did not make any colour adjustments. The feathers are slightly iridescent, so when they are in full sunlight, such as in the photos you mention, the colours really do stand out like that.

Anna
Guest

Wow! Absolutely brilliant – can’t wait for my photography lesson!

John Pheasant
Guest

David, Many thanks. Wonderful colours! The use of higher ISOs is opening up new possibilities. Looking forward to your next postings.

jan-erik
Guest

Hi David: these are all stubnning pics.
just a photographer question: in general for these type pictures, do you set the camera at aperture-priority, shutter priority, or thirdly Automatic and let the camera do “its thing”…
Love them all.
Say hello to Duncan for me.
Jan-Erik

Dawid De Wet
Guest

Hi David, great shots and images , just a question, till when are the carmines in Kruger and will one still see some in late April ?
Thanks, Dawid

Kate Neill

Hi Dawid,

The Carmines usually start migrating to equatorial Africa from the beginning of March so the likelihood of seeing them in April is rare. They usually make their way to Zimbabwe from about August and then head South to us in about November.

Hope this helps!

Regards,
Kate

Comments are closed.

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