I’ve had a number of enquiries about the forward travel schedule for our Rainbow Bee-eaters.
While they breed in small, loose colonies at a number of locations around Newstead – often along the river and in farmland – they gather in the forest to fuel up for their northward migration. At this time of year there is an abundance of flying insects – wasps, bees, dragonflies etc, that make these wooded places ideal for ‘hawking’ – the method employed by the species to capture their prey in mid-air.
I expect they may well head off any day now – it’s unusual to see them locally in March. The Climate Watch website makes the following note about Rainbow Bee-eater migration patterns.
Movement: its patterns of movement are complex and not completely understood. After breeding, southern populations move north between February and June (mostly between March and May) to spend the winter in northern Australia, New Guinea or eastern Indonesia. They return to their breeding areas in southern Australia between August and early November, though mostly between mid-September and mid-October. In northern Australia, part of the population is present throughout the year, with some individuals moving to different habitats during the non-breeding season, while other birds from the population migrate to southern Australia.