The worst photograph of the most beautiful birds in the world

I’ve arrived in Italy at exactly the wrong time. Birds have just finished breeding and are on the move. Many are preparing for their perilous journeys across the Sahara for the winter in Sub-Saharan Africa. I saw some incredible photographs of Bee Eaters before I came here. They are the most beautiful small birds I have ever not seen. They have breathtaking colours, elegant downturned bills and a wonderful body shape in flight and while perched. They also nest in burrows. How cool is that?

A few days ago they all finally finished breeding, their youngsters fledged and they’re now amassing in flocks ready for their long journey back. I could have been sitting comfortably the other side of a small hide watching Bee Eaters entering and leaving their burrow nests and perching with insects including beautiful butterflies in their beaks. At least I could a few days ago. Instead I’m staring at an empty field.

As we drive around we get occasional glimpses of their flocks and hear their distant calls:

Bee Eaters - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

They are distant, wary and against the light. You can’t really guess at their beauty from this can you?

Here’s my least worst photograph of a Bee Eater:

Bee Eaters - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Ah well, I’ll just have to wait until next year. Unless, of course, I want to go to Africa to see them in the meantime…

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