Lilac Breasted Roller – colorful gemstone in the wind

Gabelracke (Lilac Breasted Roller)

Gabelracke (Lilac Breasted Roller)

What a great start in the early morning: we saw a pride of lions and I wonder whether that really can be topped. After the big sight – endless hours of rumbling down narrow pads in Etosha National Park. As Usual – I am on the look out for the “top shot” – but without any concrete idea of how this might look like. I’d love to take photographs of rhinos or close ups of cheetahs. But they keep out of sight.

The rims of the slopes are lined with light gray bushes – not necessarily their natural color. At this time of the year they are covered with the typical fine light grayish to almost white layer of dust which even makes elephants appear like white ghosts. Once in a while a fast and shiny gemstone seems to shoot into the air. Numerous lilac breasted rolles love to sit on the branches of the white bushes.Their plumage consists of 27 different colors – they are very beautiful to look at, indeed.

My attempts to snap a good shot of a lilac breasted roller fail repeatedly. Once I manage to heave my heavy camera lens up and in position the roller is long gone. With much disappointment I can only observe the comings and goings of the rollers around me. This has been going on for quite a while and my frustration rises.

A strong wind catches up with us and diminishes the chances to get a razor-sharp photo of a roller even more. As soon as we approach a resting roller in a bush, the bird flies off.

It seems the only thing to do is to sit quietly and observe the dazzlingly colorful birds catching beetles and other insects – with a safe distance between us, of course. Again, we try our luck: we approach another lilac breasted roller. 30 meters, 20 meters – 10 meters! But what is that? The bird remains on the branch! My camera is up in no time, I hold my breath, press the button and yess!!! Good shot. Luckily, the settings were well chosen in advance.

Lilac breasted roller in the wind with all its colorful splendor and even a sun reflection point in the eye amidst the beloved colors of Etosha in Namibian winter. I love this photograph. The bird stayed put on the branch for a surprisingly long time – no need for me to hurry! Our patience has paid off. With my task accomplished for the day I can watch the beautiful birds in a relaxed mode now.

The afternoon has progressed unnoticed and we are running late – we have to be out of the park by sunset. On the way back to the main gate we see a huge boulder slowly moving through the bushes in the distance. As we find out soon enough – it is a black rhino with a magnificent horn. A very happy ending for a beautiful day. 

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