20 September 2020

80. Rainbow Birds, Bees and Blossoms

Rainbow Bee-eaters are back from wintering in north Queensland or New Guinea.

They’ve returned to our farm to breed and gobble bees.  And the best place for bees is our orchard.

In the first week of spring, apricots trees blossomed and the bees swarmed.

In the second week of September, our plum trees put out a show of white flowers.

The one I love best, the nectarine tree also put out a flurry of pink blossom.  

Ten thousand bees visited all of them.

Twelve busy Bee-eaters, who can eat hundreds a day, reduced their numbers.

This week, our four peach trees budded up and blossomed with tiny pink flowers.

For twenty days the orchard has been a buzz with bees, caterpillars, butterflies, mosquitoes, flies, midges and three varieties of ants. 

I visit most afternoons to eat the last of the snow peas and the first asparagus spears. While I’m there, all the birds clear off.

Occasionally I get buzzed for being there, but birds never fly too close to my face.

I don’t mind, it’s only a warning to stay away for their nest, eggs or hatchlings.

Double-barred Finches, Magpies, King Parrots, Spiny–cheeked Honeyeaters, Dusky Woodswallows, Welcome Swallows and Rainbow Bee-eaters flock to the place.

The orchard is a hive of noisy life as they eat their fill of ten types of insects.

Our cherry an apple trees haven’t blossomed yet; that’s something I’ll look forward to seeing.

Late in the afternoon, the Rainbow Birds soar in the sky like bronze arrows let loose. Quirky, they fly as swiftly as any birds and faster than you would expect.

I was lucky enough to see part of a mating display.

The female Bee-eater has two short tail streamers, while the male’s streamers are much longer.

The photos are grainy because the sun had almost set and the birds are thirty metres or more away. The female sits on a dead or bare branch.

The male tries to impress her by flying high through the sky in a giant circle or figure eight. I watched him do this over ten times. After each of these fast feats of flying, the male returns to a spot next to her.

Precision flying and perfect landings woo the females.

The last time he bowed low before starting to preen her. 

I think the female enjoyed the attention, putting her head down lower and lower.

Mating didn’t take place while I was there, and the sun set so low I couldn’t see anymore. 

I’m sure they became a pair though.

A Rainbow couple to dig out a nest hollow in the ground and tend the fledglings together. While taking pictures I was eaten alive by mosquitoes. 

Smacking at my legs there were at least twenty blood spots.

Still, I had to stop for these pictures of the last of the sun’s rays reflecting on the golden head of a  male Rainbow Bird.

My photos don’t do these birds justice. There are so many colours it’s a complete paint palette.

Softest blues and aqua shimmers, the iridescent and pale greens, bronze and bright rose gold along with black stripes; their plumage is awesome.

The Rainbows are one of my fave birds, while spring is my fave time of the year. 

In our orchard, budding blossom, bees and Bee-eating birds come together to create a rich tapestry of the renewal that follows winter.

It’s almost impossible to feel blue when I’m surrounded by new green growth and budding leaves in nature.

Whenever I am depressed about my broken arm, I look at the photos. 

The abundance of life restores my equilibrium

Then, as always, the birds become the lifesavers who save me.

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