After touching down in East Leake quarry on 25 June, the Nottinghamshire bee-eaters have successfully hatched chicks – just the third time this has happened in a decade.
Nearly 10,000 people have come to see these spectacular birds, some travelling from as far afield as Cornwall and County Durham. But while visitors have been enjoying the birds, behind the scenes RSPB protection staff have been guarding three active nests. And we are delighted to announce that the first of the nests has hatched!
UPDATE 26/7/17: It's a hat-trick! All three bee-eater nests have now hatched young.
Dan Branch, RSPB
Yesterday afternoon the behaviour of the adults attending 'nest 3' changed with a burst of visits and prey items going into the nest. The other two nests are now also on the verge of hatching and we expect all three will have young by the weekend.
24hr wardening will continue until all the nests hopefully successfully fledge young. The threat of human disturbance has now been replaced with that of predators. A fox has been seen and deterred from the quarry several times in recent nights, so we still have a way to go.
Bee-eaters and nest in burrows that reach up to 10ft (3m) often in sand banks, in which they lay 3-8 white eggs.
Says Mark Thomas, RSPB senior investigations officer: “Bee-eaters are sociable birds and nest together in small groups. Often pairs will enlist the help of a single, younger bird to help bring food and rear their chicks. Bringing up junior is very much a community effort.”
Birdwatchers can expert their first views of the chicks in around three weeks’ time, once they fledge.
Please remember that bee-eaters are Schedule 1 species and their nests are protected from disturbance.
Finally we would like to thank all the brilliant volunteers, CEMEX (particularly quarry manager Scott Saunders), Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, farmer Brian Burton and all the visitors!
How to see the bee-eaters: Follow your sat nav to LE12 6RG. Car park open 6am-7pm at a cost of £5 (half of which goes straight back to the RSPB to help us protect the wildlife you love).
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