The Rollers have returned from migration in early May. The best time to take pictures of Rollers is all May and June. This is the time when the birds court one another, the males feed the females with beetles, they fly around the nest and land on branches with food outside the hide throughout the day. Before they start brooding, the birds stay close to their future nest and land on the perches regularly.
Once brooding starts, they become quite secretive and are not so easy to photograph. About an hour after sunrise, rollers land on the perches before leaving in search for food. This is because shortly after sunrise and when it gets warm, the big insects which are part of rollers' diet, become active. That is when the rollers begin to actively hunt. It is desirable that the photographer gets into the hide about half an hour before sunrise. In this way, they will not scare the roller if it has perched on the branch in front of the hide.
Rollers are among some of the most interesting birds, and at the same time they are the hardest to shoot. Being predators, they are quite clever and have good eyesight. The lens should not be projected much outside the shelter, no sudden movements to the left or to the right are recommended. In case you wish to take a picture of it flying – consider the direction of movement and take a picture when the bird enters the frame. In case you wish to take a picture of it on the perch, focus the branch in advance and start taking pictures a little before the bird perches. Take pictures in short bursts of 3-4 frames. Longer series are not recommended because the sound might scare the bird away.
The best shots are taken when the roller lands on the perch and spread their wings, or when two birds court each other. To achieve that, “hold” the perch in frame in advance.
For action photography and shots in flight, it is best to use 200-400 mm, for portraits - 500 mm.
Bring and use your own tripod. In this way you won’t make unnecessary movements with the lens, your hands won’t get tired and you won’t scare the birds away with too much movement.
Clothes and temperature
During spring and summer, it sometimes gets very hot, so wear thin cotton T-shirts and light trousers. It is desirable that the T-shirts are dark-colored.
Before entering the hide, you should visit the toilet. Leaving the hide during the day is very likely to scare the bird and it won’t come back nor perch in front any time soon. Have a bottle prepared in case of an emergency. During the day, drink less water and eat light food such as biscuits or waffles, to avoid having to get out.