In Southern Andalucia we are spared the worst extremes of seasonal change. The cold does not hit us as hard as further north in Europe, and even Spain. But the changes of the seasons are evident from the passage of birds in the skies overhead as they make their way from Africa into Europe in the spring and summer and returning once again in the autumn.

There is one bird which is due to make an appearance soon and which, to me at least, signals the change of season as clearly as a leaf fall in the autumn. This is the bee eater…

I´m no expert on birds and often feel deeply ignorant when I struggle to identify the little songbirds I see when out walking the dog. But this is not true of the bee eater which is unmistakable. These are beautiful birds, absolute stunners.

Some day soon I will discover they have arrived when they are lined up on the electric wires or wheeling around in the sky. For a little while they will be everywhere and then, suddenly, they will be gone again.

In the late summer they will pass by once more heading back to Africa.

The European bee eater, Merops apiaster, is the only one we see here. There are a number of species (26 altogether) but these are found mainly in Africa, Australia and New Guinea.

They really do eat honey bees but take the trouble to remove the sting and most of the venom before they swallow them. They are also keen on ants and wasps. These insects are caught on the wing and, interestingly, the bird will ignore a bee on the ground.