European Bee-eater photo hide


I’ve been waiting for spring season for a long time… yes, it’s already here! Winter was pretty cold in Madrid, that’s the reason why it was snowing in the mountains of Guadarrama National Park for months. Normally snow stops falling by March, however, during this season it snowed until the beginning of May.

As soon as the weather gets hot, the snow melts. Dams and rivers have more water than ever. It has provoked an unbelievable explosion of nature. That’s why spring arrived later but stronger than ever. Now the landscape has turned into an ocean of flowers. Everything gets covered by a long and colorful blanket of flowers, and the spring bird migration is already here.

Some species of birds are hard to spot. So what to do? I’ve been reading qualified sources of information about habitats, migrations, breeding, etc. But the only way to get close enough to these birds is doing photo hide. My plan was clear: I wanted to take pictures of seasonal birds such the European bee-eater, the Golden oriole or the Black kite. It requires patience until the migration season begins. Finally, the only difficulty is to find the right place to spot them.

I call my friend Juan, who owns Vultour. He runs a bird watching business in Segovia, Spain. He works the whole year looking for breeding season spots or new species. He also manages and maintains a bunch of photo hides, all of them distributed in strategic points, like: in a pine forest, in a holm-oak forest, in open fields, or right next to a small lagoon.
The Bee-eaters are a group of near-passerine birds from the Meropidae family. Most of species are located in Africa, as the European bee-eater. Their main characteristic is their colored plumage and aerodynamic bodies with pointed wings. As the name indicates, Bee-eaters eat flying insects, such bees and dragon flies.

While I was shooting the Bee-eaters, I had the opportunity to record a small video:



Around 1 PM we got near to the Bee-eaters colony in the forest. The colony was located in a huge long sandy bank, where Bee-eaters build their nests in small mud tunnels. A lot of Bee-eaters were hunting flying insects and I felt very impressed by their beauty.

Bee-eaters are very hyperactive birds, fast hunters, and very noisy. They probably didn’t realize that I was there setting up the hide as they were very busy hunting for breeding. After 1 hour waiting inside the hide, finally a beautiful couple of Bee-eaters came down and alighted over a branch which was placed there in a strategic position to create a nice shooting scene. Most of the species of Bee-eaters are monogamous, and both parents stay together caring and hunting for the young, sometimes being helped with the assistance of others in the colony.

It was a great experience and I would like to repeat it soon. Next time, I should do it early in the morning to make the most of the morning light from sunrise.



Equipment: Fujifilm X-T1 + XF100-400mm f4.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR


A beautiful couple of European bee-eaters


Bee-eater alighted


Bee-eater alighted 



  1. Jonathan knights

    SUper photos jose. My bee-eaters near valencia are less good at posing for photos as they seem to be flying all the time. Jonathan

    • Dear Jonathan,

      How are you? Where did you shot them? Did you use a photo hide? I would like to see them, don’t forget to paste here a link (in case you have website).

      Bee-eaters are very noisy and fast birds, a bit tricky to shot them, right? that is why I was shooting them inside of a photo hide, otherwise would be almost impossible!

      Thanks for writing!


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