Blue-throated Bee-eater… a colorful sacrifice!

Blue-throated Bee-eater by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2011

by Alex Vargas on October 27, 2011 · 5 comments

in Birding Asia, Digiscoping & Bird Photography

Bee-eaters are fantastic and gracious birds, pretty colorful all of them. The Blue-throated it’s amongst my favorites as it is a beautiful -not so easy to get- target… and I love that kind of challenge!

This is a quick story that involves a cool bird, a super hotspot -by all means- to go get it and the crazy guy behind the camera that will get into the portable blind, right at an open field in the raging sun at nearly 40 centigrades…

The other day, wife and daughter were laughing while accounting some of the craziest things and acts I have performed to get a bird image… We mentioned all kinds of “whacky” stuff, but one was a painful memory, one that at the moment I said I will never repeat… One that I’m ready to go back for again next year… Why?… well, just look at the following image and imagine 4 birds in that branch… (meaning that I’ll have to wait longer in the blind this time!)

Blue-throated Bee-eater 2 by Alex Vargas

Blue-throated Bee-eater 2 by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2011

Last May, my friend Peter (a Sweden gent that has lived and birded in Thailand for over 30 years) and I, rushed about a thousand kilometers drive to find and photograph one of the most difficult kingfishers of the country at a nesting site (but that’s another story). On the way back, we decided to stop and try for these good looking Blue-throated Bee-eaters at Hat Wanakorn National Park. One of the smallest parks of Thailand, located at about 6 hours south of Bangkok, this one is settle at the edge of some nice white-sanded beaches and to me -for what I’ve seeing- it is more like a weekend recreational and camping spot than a National Park.

I had already been told that it was going to be hot, but nothing could had prepared us for what it was to come. Arriving at 7am, we spotted in the middle of an open field -some 100 meters from the beach- the perching branch already prepared by other photographers and set everything up with the faith of getting nice shots and by 9am to get back on the road and head home before it was burning… The first bird showed at the branch by 11am, although we could hear them flying by and calling above our heads since the beginning… like saying: “melt if you want me” !

You can appreciate in that video that we were not the only hot and thirsty guys on the field…

By the time we gave up -on hopping for several perching together- I could squeeze the sweat from my socks and fill a jar with each one… No kidding!  As I jumped out of the blind into the heavy sun over the open field, I looked at Peter and he seemed as if he had just came out of a pool; then I realized I was like that as well… God! what a sacrifice, but got the bird… we got it and it was all worth the effort, yes sir!

Blue-throated Bee-eater 2 by Alex Vargas

Blue-throated Bee-eater 3 by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2011

Oh, and while waiting and melting on our blinds, this quick, shy and noisy Red-wattled Lapwing kept us from fainting and gave us some nice poses…

Red-wattled Lapwing by Alex Vargas

Red-wattled Lapwing by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2011

Exhausted, dehydrated and all burned, we went home with some nice shots and a smile in our face… Crazy birders!

Blue-throated Bee-eater 4 by Alex Vargas

Blue-throated Bee-eater 4 by Alex Vargas, Thailand 2011

Happy Bird-Photo Adventures… “see you” next thursday!


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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Ken Wilson October 29, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Hi Alex, enjoyed reading your account of life in a blind, you guys must have looked lovely when you emerged. As always your photos are wonderful and I enjoyed the addition of the video clip. Ken


Gunnar Engblom October 30, 2011 at 5:57 am

Enviado desde mi BlackBerry de Movistar


Birdernaturalist October 30, 2011 at 4:48 pm

Definitely worth it – those are awesome photos of a stunning bird. I hope to see one some day…


AlexVargas October 31, 2011 at 5:07 am

Thanks Rich,
…you know, I’m going to spend 10 days photo-birding in Arizona (may 2012) and you could comeback with me and get these and many more in Thailand… Cheers!


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