Updated version: I am of two minds regarding the cropping of this image. I don't know how many hours I have spent on the post processing. The sunset was awesome, but the birds are still the heroes of the image. It really was one of the most vibrant sunsets I have seen in a long time. I flipped the orientation, feeling the image scans better from left to right. I also widened the crop to give more prominence to the setting sun. I would appreciate any comments.
Earlier in the day we visited a colony of Southern Carmine Bee-eaters living in burrows in the cliff on the far side of the Luangwa River from where we were standing. The birds were flying back and forth from the nesting burrows with a constant supply of freshly caught insects for the fledglings. There was a dead tree nearby on our side of the river where the birds rested while waiting for their turn to visit the nesting burrows. I realized the if we came back at sunset, I would probably be able to catch the birds silhouetted against the sun as it went down. It was the perfect location for shooting the colorful birds against the intensely colorful sky. We stayed until the last of the purple hour afterglow finally left the western sky. The color became more and more intense as the sky darkened.
I used a Canon EOS 7D Mark II with a Canon 200 - 400mm f/4L IS USM EXT to take the image. The exposure settings were 1/2000 sec at f/6.3, ISO 3200, 560 mm. I used a monopod to provide support.