The Bee-eaters are a beautifully coloured Old World family of birds that sit out on prominent perches watching for insects to prey upon.
This Green Bee-eater, Merops Orientalis, was seen at the Pivot Fields in Dubai where it was perched on a sprinkler head and was constantly looking out for something to eat.
Bees are eaten, as you might imagine, but so are most other flying insects including dragonflies, beetles and butterflies. Insects crawling on the ground are not safe as the bird will swoop down and pick them up from there.
This one caught a butterly and flew on to a nylon cord strung between two small palm trees. Here, it thrashed the butterfly against the cord before throwing it up into the air and catching it again.
The bee-eater was trying to get the insect into a better position so that it could be swallowed more easily. In the photo, you might be able to see the wing scales thrashed from the butterfly.
After a couple of attempts, the bird worked the butterfly into a favourable position and swallowed it down.
To my great shame, I failed to give the butterfly much credit for its contribution to the piece. Thank you to Ashwin Baindur for his comment pointing out that the butterfly is a Painted Lady, Vanessa cardui
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