Tuesday 4 July 2017

Breeding Bee-eaters in the UK!

Tuesday 4 July

Rare bee-eaters under 24-hour guard in East Leake quarry

This is what happens when a once-in-lift-time experience occurs in your local area.  Having watched the report on my local TV news and seen later reports I can confirm that the estimated crowd of "twitchers" visiting East Leake at the week-end was estimated at 2,500.  And with birds apparently settled in for the breeding season and likely to be in the area for the whole of the summer, I imagine that the final count will be well in excess of ten or even fifty thousand visitors.  Indeed, the site is not so far away from Rutland Water so, if still present, I would not be surprised to see additional visitors combining East Leake with next month's Bird Fair.

The following is extracted from the BBC News Internet site:

Seven bee-eater birds rarely seen in the UK are under 24-hour guard at a quarry over fears any potential nests could be disturbed.  The birds, usually found in southern Europe, were first spotted at the quarry, in East Leake, Nottinghamshire, on Sunday.  Tim Sexton, of Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, said nest disturbance was a "constant worry" for conservationists.  Up to 2,000 people are expected to try and see the birds at the weekend.

The RSPB, which has set up a safe viewing area and a car-park to accommodate visitors, said trespassers would be reported to police.  Round-the-clock security has been brought in to prevent any nesting attempts by the birds being disturbed.  The charity tweeted: "... no need to trespass, risks everything. Keep out of quarry - simple!"

Mr Sexton said now the "incredible" birds have settled he is expecting a few thousand people over the weekend, but encouraged visitors to view them from the designated watch point.

The quarry, owned by minerals firm Cemex, is still active and protected by fencing and CCTV.
The RSPB and the wildlife trust are also providing volunteers to not only give out information and help to birdwatchers, but also report trespassers.  The birds, which feast on bees and other flying insects, are likely to nest at the site and have probably travelled northwards because of climate change, the RSPB have said.

Obviously photographs taken before the big week-end rush!

Springwatch presenter Chris Packham said: "It's an exciting bird, they're made of a patchwork quilt of colours which make them very exotic.
"They're head of a vanguard of birds that are moving northwards thanks to climate change... we've had increasing numbers of these birds remaining into summer [in the UK] and breeding."
The birds, which burrow into sandy banks, nested in Cumbria in 2015, and on the Isle of Wight in 2014.

A trio of the seven Bee-eaters Merops apiaster present at the quarry

 Bee-eaters are normally nest in southern Europe and are a very rare breeding bird in the UK
  • They nest in colonies in sandy banks often near rivers
  • The birds can burrow in 10ft (3m) tunnels and usually lay clutches of four to nine eggs
  • They can be seen tossing bees into the air after catching them
  • Bee-eaters are a schedule one species, which means intentional or reckless disturbance of their nests is a criminal offence

Source: RSPB

All photographs take from BBC News page

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information.

1 comment:

  1. Have the Bee-eaters all gone further North this year? There is a very noticible scarcity of Bee-eaters this year in my local area which is inland Almeria. (specifically near to Albox)
    This is now my 14th year living locally and I have only seen a handfull of Bee-eaters this year also only heard them in flight on two occasions. Normally they are plentiful and always to be seen perched on the electricity wires in favourite spots. It could be pure coincidence but it seems to be a bad year for wasps as a result of the decline in Bee-eaters. Anybody else noticed this? Tom.