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Roller Catch

The Lilac Breasted Roller (Corocia Scaudata) is surely one of Africa’s most attractive birds and it is said to sport a variety of seven different colours. Every wildlife photographer likes to have a prized roller shot in his or her collection and for some reason I did not yet have mine...

Driving through the Northern Serengeti one beautiful sunny morning, I noticed a roller of the lilac-breasted variety, swoop down and catch a grasshopper. The roller flew off and as usual I thought to myself, “Oh well, another roller shot missed”! Just as the vehicle was pulling off and with my frustrated fists still clenched, I noticed the roller land on a few small and distant rocks. We decided to drive around and stopping the vehicle a safe distance away, I let off a few frames. The bird was however too small in my lens and since I mostly photograph mammals and predators, this is often the case. I decided to go for broke, and climbing out the car I inched closer to my colourful subject. To my delight, the roller was so preoccupied in trying to kill and swallow its grasshopper breakfast that it let me approach to within a few meters. I waited for the roller to flip the grasshopper into the air before unleashing a torrent of shutter and mirror flips. I was glad I did, as a second later, the grasshopper was swallowed and the roller alighted.

Returning to camp, I had a rare but content smile on my face. It is not often that things go right for a wildlife photographer and when they do, you need to enjoy the moment!

(Technical Details: 35mm DSLR body, 400mm focal length, ISO 400, F4 and 1/6400th . Beanbag for support.)

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