Observation of the Week, 5/14/17

This Green Bee-eater, seen in India by @saurabh_chinkara, is our Observation of the Week!

It’s funny how the search for one organism can be unsuccessful but nevertheless lead to a great observation out in the field. That’s the case with Saurabh Agrawal’s beautiful Green Bee-eater shot above. A tour guide for his own company Chinkara Journeys, Saurabh had heard about a butterfly that had been spotted in a park close to his home, one which has not been recorded in central India.

Although he spent several hours looking for it, Saurabh was unsuccessful in his search. However, he had spotted a Green Bee-eater flitting about, catching flies. Unlike many of us (myself included) who would have been happy to snap a photo and move on, Saurabh used patience and attention to detail to get the perfect shot. “After observing it for some time I found that bird was using 2-3 branches of Ipomea plant as a perch to look out for another fly,” he recalls. “I crawled as quietly as possible and focused my camera on one branch which was receiving good light and had no obstacle in the background and hoped the bird would come. After waiting for 15-20 minutes I got this bird sitting exactly where I wanted it.”

As its name suggests, the Green Bee-eater is an insectivore, and often specializes in consuming beetles, wasps, and bees, flying out and catching them from a low perch. Once it catches an insect, the bird will thrash it against a branch or other hard surface, breaking the exoskeleton and/or removing any stingers, before swallowing it. Its many subspecies range from Sub-Saharan Africa north and east through Vietnam.

Befitting someone with such patience, Saurabh is

currently compiling information and photographs of the birds found in central India. My aim is to include as many photographic records for reference for others. This will include birds in flight, stationery, the difference in sex, plumage, morphs etc. My main area of study is [the] Bastar region which is the southern part of Chhattisgarh. The area has never been studied properly. It is one of the last pockets of almost virgin forests still left in the peninsular region. Many birds and amphibian species found here cannot be seen elsewhere in central India.

He also takes school and college students into the field to teach them about bird identification and conservation. “As a result,” he says, “we have now over 100 people who go out in the field on a volunteer basis and report sightings and look out for threats to local wildlife and if required necessary action can be taken with the help of local government body.”

Professor Michael Hogan, one of Saurabh’s clients, introduced him to iNaturalist. “I am still in learning stage but have found it very useful in creating a database of species that I have seen and photograph. It is a great platform for a person like me share their sightings with the rest of the world,” he says.

- by Tony Iwane


- You know you wanted to see a Green Bee-eater smashing an insect. It’s a thorough process!

- iNaturalist users have taken many great shots of Bee-eaters. Check them out.

- Little African birds called Honeyguides often parasitize the nests of Bee-eaters. Their eggs often look like Bee-eater eggs, but that’s not to fool the host...

Posted by tiwane tiwane, May 15, 2017 04:21

Comments

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Thank you Tony for featuring my picture and blurb about my work. I hope it will be interesting to others inaturalist users too.

Posted by saurabh_chinkara about 3 years ago (Flag)

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