Backlit Lilac Breasted Roller

It is always satisfying to know that when I say farewell to my guests they have started looking at the savanna ecosystem as a whole and are leaving with a better understanding of how everything in nature fits together.

While we were spending some quality time with a big territorial rhino bull one morning, I explained to my guests how opportunistic some birds can be. We already knew the red-billed oxpeckers very well from seeing them jumping all over the large mammals’ bodies to rid them of ecto-parasites, but there are a few more birds, like this beautiful Lilac breasted roller, that often perch close to large animals to quickly snatch fleeing insects out of the air.


While we were observing the commensialistic symbiosis between the birds and the rhino, this roller swooped down to the ground to try and grab an insect and flew right over our heads. It was just then that I clicked away with my camera at 8 frames per second hoping to capture this awesome bird in flight.

I had set the camera to a deeper depth of field, f7.4, to get the whole bird in focus – with a very fast shutter speed of 1/4000 of a second to freeze the roller in mid-air. The ISO was set to 800 and I used Matrix metering mode with aperture priority.

Be sharp out there.

Wim Vorster

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