‘Incredibly rare’ exotic birds have been spotted in Nottinghamshire for the first time in around 40 years.
Two bee-eaters were spotted by bird watchers at CEMEX’s East Leake Quarry on Sunday and a group of 10 were spotted by staff yesterday (June 26).
Janice Bradley, head of conservation at Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, which works with the quarry, said the birds are showing signs of ‘mating behaviour’.
She said: “They were starting to show signs of mating behaviour which is really, really exciting.
“We don’t know if they’re going to breed but it’s interesting that they are not just passing through for 24 hours before moving on. They seem to be staying here and there’s a little group of them.”
Janice said staff at the quarry are making sure the birds are not disturbed and have set up a ‘viewing location’ for people to watch them with telescopes.
She said: “The hope is they will come back annually and, because they’ll migrate in the winter, if they’ve found a place they like and a place to rear their young they might come back.
“They haven’t been recorded in the county since the 1970s. They are an extremely rare breeding bird in the whole of the UK – they are a bird predominately from warmer Mediterranean countries like North Africa.
“There have been the odd pair that have bred in the UK over the past few years. There were a pair in a quarry in Durham that tried to breed – but we’re talking a handful in decade.”
The birds feature a stunning, rich-coloured plumage of patches of bright blue, orange, yellow and ginger.
They are commonly found in Africa and Asia, southern Europe, Australia and New Guinea.
They eat insects and, as their name suggests, bees and wasps.
The birds remove bees’ and wasps’ venom by repeatedly hitting them on a hard surface, which applies pressure on the insects and extracts most of their venom.
The bee-eaters nest in burrows, banks and on flat ground – features prominent at the Nottinghamshire quarry.
Janice added: “What they like are the same sort of conditions so nice, steep vertical banks – and they’ve shown an interest in our burrows.
“In keeping those features in the quarry you can ensure there’s a suitable habitat for them to come back next year.”