- Bee-eaters have only nested a handful of times in the UK in the past decade.
- Seven birds present on a quarry site in Nottinghamshire.
- Exotic birds being pushed northwards because of climate change with more expected on our shores in the coming years.
Several rare bee-eaters – a spectacularly coloured bird which usually breeds in southern Europe and Africa – have been spotted at CEMEX’s East Leake quarry near Loughborough, Nottinghamshire.
As their name suggests, bee-eaters predominately eat insects, especially bees, wasps and hornets. This exotic looking bird – a wash of green, yellow, brown and white – is extremely rare in the UK having only nested a handful of times in the past decade. The last coming in 2015 at Low Gelt sand quarry near Brampton in Cumbria.
First seen last weekend, it is believed there are now seven bee-eaters present on the site. The bee-eater is colonial and nest in burrows that reach up to 10ft (3m) often in sand banks. It is hoped the birds will nest at the site with the possibility of chicks to follow in the coming weeks.
Mark Thomas, RSPB Senior Investigations Officer, said: “These exotic birds with their flash of yellow and green are much more likely to be seen in southern Europe or Africa rather than Nottinghamshire. But we’re delighted to see bee-eaters return to our shores to nest once more, a very rare occurrence that has wildlife enthusiast very excited.
“Visitors have been treated to the sight of the bee-eaters tossing bees into the air after catching them. The birds then strike the bees against branches to disable the stings before eating them. It’s fantastic behaviour to see.
“In recent years, bee-eater sightings have been on the increase. They’re being pushed northwards, looking for suitable habitat to nest and raise their young because of climate change. These birds are likely to become more established visitors to the UK in the future, and thanks to this partnership with CEMEX we can provide that right habitat for them.”
East Leake quarry offers the perfect home for bee-eaters and the existing nest hole, which is being excavated by both parents, is alongside that of sand martins, another bird that nests in sand banks.
As these birds are very rare the RSPB is working with CEMEX to ensure the protection of the birds and the safety of anyone wishing to catch a glimpse of one. To find out more how to see them, visit http://natu.re/2t0VEwG