Robert Henderson's picture

Awkward Roller Moment 1

Everyone who visits East Africa loves sighting the Lilac Breasted Rollers. These colorful birds perch prominently in the top branches of medium sized trees where they have a good view of the grassy areas where they hunt for the insects and arthropods that make up the majority of their diet. They are normally found elegantly perched with their flight feathers hidden. But once in the air, their even brighter wing coverts and flight feathers are visible.

But it's hard to see both at the same time - except at the instant of landing or taking off.

We found this beautiful bird during a very rainy visit to the Nyerere National Park (formerly the Selous Game Reserve) in Tanzania in November, 2023.

Fortunately, in spite of the heavy rain, there were breaks between the squalls when the light was perfect for capturing high-key images against the cloudy sky.

The birds took advantage of the breaks to puff up their feathers and shake off as much of the water as they could. The wind was still blowing strongly, which turned the birds from elegant to awkward as they shook themselves off.

A special thanks is due to Asilia Roho ya Selous Guide Goodluck, whose amazing driving skills as a "mudder" got us through the muddy tracks that were more like rivers than roads. We were nearly as damp as the birds.

I took the image with a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon 200-400 F4L IS USM 1.4 EXT lens, f5.6, 1/1600 sec, 560 mm, handheld.

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Thanks Marius! The strange contortions made for an unusual picture of this commonly photographed bird. I like the fact that you can see the normally hidden very colorful flight feathers I have a few more interesting images in the same sequence that I eventually intend to post. Cheers! Bob