South Luangwa National Park is well known for its colonies of colourful southern carmine bee-eaters. This species of bee-eater is a summer migrant to Zambia, arriving in late August and early September where they gather in their hundreds and select a breeding site on the steep sandy banks of the Luangwa River.
They actively dig individual tunnels in the bank, which are up to two metres deep, where they will lay their eggs and nourish their young in late November and early December. The best time to observe these birds is right now – in September – when both males and females are actively digging and feeding. Depending on their location, they make for a wonderful sighting either as the sun rises or sets, when the sun’s rays magnify the bright pinkish-red and blue colours of their feathers.
A joy for photographers and birders alike, they’re a sight not to be missed in South Luangwa. Whether perching, flying in loops, drinking or eating, they are challenging yet beautiful subjects to capture on camera.
There is currently a colony just across from Kafunta River Lodge on the western bank of the Luangwa River, which can be approached from the beach of the river which provides the best angle for photography!