Rare bee-eater birds seen at Nottinghamshire sand quarry
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.
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.
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."
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."
- 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