Witness the southern carmine bee-eater spectacle on the Chobe River

Witness the southern carmine bee-eater spectacle on the Chobe River

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The annual migration of southern carmine bee-eaters

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Do winged wonders make your heartbeat flutter? Are you a twitcher who is twitching to go on your next avian adventure? Then the annual migration of southern carmine bee-eaters to the Chobe River should be on your birding bucket list!

The carmine bee-eater is the largest of all African bee-eaters, and the southern species has a vivid pink throat to complement its long tail and bright crimson plumage. Most southern carmines migrate through their range in three stages; their beautiful colours making them a sight to behold en masse.

Where and when?
Between July and September, these bee-eaters fly south to congregate at sites along rivers in Southern Africa to prepare for their nesting season. According to this article by wildlife photographer, Grant Atkinson, “when adult carmine bee-eaters first arrive at their Southern African breeding grounds, their plumage is at its best: the throat is resplendently pink and the tail feathers are attractively long.”

The birds tend to return to the same stretches of river every year, although changes in terrain may cause them to shift a bit. Southern carmine bee-eaters live in huge breeding colonies, which can number between 100 and 1,000 nests.

However, up to 10,000 nests have been documented at a single site! Atkinson highlights that this “multitude of pink flashes darting in all directions above a lazy river must be one of the most memorable sights of Southern Africa.”

The sandy banks of the Chobe River in Botswana is one popular breeding site, and a luxury Chobe safari in September and October affords visitors the opportunity to be dazzled by these splashes of crimson.

Laying takes place in these two months, when two to four eggs are laid approximately two days apart and hatch at different times. Once the chicks have flown the nest and nesting duties are complete, the colonies then form smaller flocks and disperse by December - flying as far away as Swaziland, South Africa and southern Mozambique.

If you are a birder, a photographer or a nature lover, then don’t miss this vibrant window of opportunity. Contact Elite Travel Concept to organise a luxury sojourn in the Chobe National Park and watch the river pulsate with colour.

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