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Rare bee-eaters spotted at East Leake Quarry

Bee-eater

Seven exotic and colourful birds take up residence at CEMEX site in Nottinghamshire

SEVERAL rare bee-eaters – a spectacularly coloured bird that usually breeds in southern Europe and Africa – have taken up residence 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 occasion being in 2015 at Low Gelt sand quarry, near Brampton, in Cumbria.

First spotted at East Leake Quarry on 25 June, a total of seven bee-eaters have been observed at the site. At least one pair have been seen mating, raising hopes that they will nest and breed at the site, with the possibility of chicks to follow in the coming weeks.

As bee-eaters are very rare, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) is working with CEMEX to ensure the protection of the birds and the safety of anyone wishing to catch a glimpse of one. The birds are a schedule 1 species, which means that intentional or reckless disturbance of their nests is a criminal offence. RSPB volunteers have been deployed to help monitor and protect the site at East Leake during their stay.

Mark Thomas, the RSPB’s 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 enthusiasts very excited.

‘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 partnerships like this one with CEMEX, we can provide the right habitats to accommodate them.’

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