With a green chest that gives way to turquoise and gradually turning blue near the beak, blue-throated bee-eaters have beautiful colours that rival most birds. Adult bee-eaters have a reddish-brown crown distinguishing them from juveniles which are dark green.
The blue-throated bee-eater is an excellent hunter of flying insects. It likes to perch at the top of the tree canopy and usually on an exposed tree branch. This position provides an excellent panoramic view of its surroundings. It jerks its head as it scans the area for flying insects. When the bee-eater locks on an insect, it launches from its spot and darts through the air to catch its target.
The insect sensing danger, changes direction abruptly in an attempt to escape. However, it will take more than this to evade capture. Bee-eaters are very agile in flight, able to twist and turn their body in response to the target. More often, it is the bee-eater that wins and returns with a tasty snack.
After capturing its prey, the bee-eater usually return to tree branch to finish the meal. While it makes quick work with smaller insects, it needs to process bigger insects. It bashes and swipes the insect against the tree branch to kill it before gulping it down.
To observe the hunting process of a bee-eater, you can plant yourself at the same spot. More often than not, the bee-eater will return to its original perching spot after taking out its target. The difficulty in taking a good shot of a bee-eater in flight lies in the speed of this bird. It pushes your reaction time to its limit. A bee-eater's launch is very fast as it does a aerodynamic glide with the help of gravity. Your eyes see a flash in the camera's viewfinder and there is only time for reflex actions. Sometimes, you guess the direction it will launch and hope you are right.
While the bird is in flight, it has an undulating glide with abrupt twists and u-turns. This can be challenging for your eyes, neck and finger. I will recommend a technique of spray and pray. If you take many shots, one of them will turn out right eventually.
Another technique I recommend is to time the shots as the bee-eater is about to land on a tree. At the final moments of landing, it spreads its wings out for half a second and holds it in this position to brake itself and brings its movement to halt. This gives you enough time to focus on the bird and you get a beautiful nice spread of the wings.
Blue-throated bee-eaters likes to stay in a group of threes and fours. Each take turns to take to the air as it sweeps the area in a circle for food. On many occasions, I have seen them passing food to one another.