Nottingham

Rare bee-eater birds seen at Nottinghamshire sand quarry

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Media captionAbout a hundred people have been to the quarry since Sunday

Birdwatchers have rushed to a quarry to catch a glimpse of seven "exotic" birds that are usually seen in southern Europe.

Bee-eaters, which are rare visitors to the UK, have been spotted at the Cemex quarry, in East Leake, Nottinghamshire.

The RSPB said the birds, which feast on bees and wasps, have been seen mating and it is likely they will nest at the site.

The birds may have headed north due to climate change, the charity added.

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Image caption Many more birdwatchers are expected to visit the quarry at the weekend

About a hundred birdwatchers have been to the site since Sunday, but that number is expected to increase significantly by the weekend.

A viewing area and car park, with a £5 charge, has been set up at Lings Farm, near Loughborough, for birders seeking the best views of the bee-eaters.

The Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, which works in partnership with minerals firm Cemex, said it was the first record of the species in the county since 1970.

Image caption The birds have to be viewed at distance through binoculars and digiscopes so they are not disturbed
Image copyright RSPB
Image caption It is extremely rare that bee-eater birds attempt to breed in the UK

Tim Sexton, from the trust, said bee-eaters prefer to nest in sandy banks and the quarry simulates those conditions.

"It creates quite a nice safe haven for the birds, but certainly over the past 20 years we've seen species you would typically associate with the Mediterranean, the south of France and even North Africa," he added.

"Perhaps [in the future] we'll see bee-eaters become a common sight across Nottinghamshire and further north as well."

Image caption A car park has been set up and half of the proceeds will go to the RSPB

Mark Thomas, from the RSPB, said: "Bee-eater sightings have been on the increase. Pushed northwards by climate change, these exotic birds will likely become established visitors to our shores."

The last time the birds nested in the UK was in Cumbria in 2015, and they have also nested on the Isle of Wight in 2014, Herefordshire in 2005 and Country Durham in 2002.

Image copyright Rob Hoare
Image caption The bee-eaters have been taking advantage of the quarry's sandy banks

Bee-eaters

  • Bee-eaters are normally found nesting 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
  • Bee-eaters are a schedule one species, which means that intentional or reckless disturbance of their nests is a criminal offence
  • The birds are expected to increase in numbers in the UK due to climate change, the RSPB said

Source: RSPB

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