Saturday, August 4, 2012

White-fronted Bee-eater, Africa

These White-fronted bee-eaters were hunting bees while perched on a branch over the Zambezi River in Zambia.  I was happy to see them.  I’d seen the White-fronted Bee-eaters before but I was never able to get a good picture of one. 

We were being briefed on our upcoming elephant trek into the bush.  It was midmorning and chairs were set up in a rectangle on the lawn, under a canopy to protect us from the hot African sun. I noticed bee-eaters landing in a nearby tree.   As important as this briefing was, I decided I wasn’t going to miss out on getting a shot of these beauties. 

I had already heard the part about staying back from the riverbank ten meters because there were crocodiles in the Zambezi.  On average about one crocodile every fifteen meters, they said.  I don’t know who came up with that figure, or how, but I took them at their word. 

I stepped forward slowly for two reasons.  First, I didn’t want them to fly away before I got at least one shot and secondly I wasn’t quite sure just how far ten meters was.  Is a meter longer or shorter than a yard?  My feet were shuffling, my eyes were fixed on the bee-eaters and my brain was working overtime!  I didn’t want to miss my chances with this beautiful bird while at the same time I didn’t want to become a crocodile snack. 

I started inching forward on tiptoes, as if that made any difference. Do crocodiles use the metric system or inches and feet? 

The briefing in the rectangle stopped.  I could sense the other in the rectangle watching me. It bothered me a little to think, I could be the next big video on YouTube, if someone was recording this, but I kept inching forward.  I rationalized, maybe there were two crocs in the next fifteen-meter section and none in this one?  The math still worked!  It worked well enough for me to keep shooting and I got my photographs. I’m happy with that.

August, 2011