Zambezi Voyager: A Kaleidoscope of Carmines

News from Brendon:

Another beautiful sunny day with a cool breeze to keep the temperature close to ideal gave us a spectacular day out on the river.

We arrived at the main Carmine colony before sunrise so that we could be in place to photograph the Carmines against the dramatic rising sun. We all managed dozens of images of the beautiful birds silhouetted against the sun and the colourful sky, and our flashes were kept really busy as the birds emerged from their burrows.

Once again tremendous disputes broke out and the mid-air aerobatics, squabbles and chases kept us focussed for hours. 

Then suddenly a Yellow-billed Kite swooped out of the sky …

                                                           Wim van den Heever ZK-012

… and grabbed one of the fighting Carmines, and within seconds was flying away with his prize in his talons. More fabulous images!

We traveled upstream for about 100 meters to a second Carmine colony where similar aerial displays were in evidence. Biting each other’s tails, pinning opponents to the ground, and magnificent chases through the air again gave us photographic opportunities in any direction we chose to point our cameras.

                         Wim van den Heever ZK-010

Before returning to the Zambezi Voyager for brunch we decided to reconnoiter a little further upstream. And as everyone is a very keen bird watcher we were delighted to see a number of species including Skimmers, Jacanas, Fish Eagles, plentiful Openbill Storks, Plovers feeding their chicks … and a Godwit.

On the way to the Carmine colony this afternoon we again stopped at the White-fronted Bee-eaters. They were very active again, creating wonderful photo opps for us, and when we saw chicks being fed we knew that we could not ask for more.

We found another White-fronted Bee-eater colony also busily catching insects above the water, and stopped again to enjoy the spectacle.

By the time we reached the Carmine colony a golden light suffused the area. Many of the Carmines fly away during the day to catch insects elsewhere, but they all return to the nesting colony as evening approaches. 

As the birds return and the bird density increases, tensions build up and the squabbling, fighting, chasing, biting, flying higher and higher, tumbling and pinning opponents to the ground reaches a fever pitch. For spectators the sight is quite amazing. Vibrant colours and whirling birds create a kaleidoscope of ever changing patterns … and excitement.

The stars above the boat tonight are brilliant, and with the peace and quiet all around we cannot help but wish that this moment will last and last …