Hundreds of birds rose in a swirling confusion before the truck as we approached the Hidden Valley overlook on the east-central region of Vera Plaine. We stopped short of driving into the pock-marked track that had recently become a nesting site for perhaps 1500 to 2000 rosy bee-eaters. Slate-gray above, rosy-pink below, these bee-eaters sport a black mask highlighted by a slash of white beneath the eye. The strikingly beautiful birds sail through the air on narrow wings and streamlined bodies that taper to a thin tail streamer. They resemble large swallows as they careen over our heads like acrobats, filling the air with a melodic chorus of cheetle-cheetle-cheet before circling to settle back atop their burrows. The birds often congregate above our heads when hiking the savannas of Vera Plaine, snatching grasshoppers stirred to flight by our footsteps.
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