Isle of Wight bee-eaters rewrite record books

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  • ©Danny Vokins

    The Isle of Wight bee-eaters

  • ©Andy Butler

    Bee-eater catches a dragonfly at Wydcombe, Isle of Wight

Latest update 03.09.2014 09:28

Over 3,000 bird watchers have seen the most successful bee-eater breeding attempt on record in the UK. the large number of enthusiasts have tralled to the Isle of Wight to get a rare glimpse of the colourful birds, which are usually found in the Mediterranean.

Three chicks have fledged from a nest on the Wydcombe Estate, which we look after, and another five chicks have fledged from a second nest.

An adult bee-eater was first spotted at Wydcombe on 15 July by our dragonfly recorder Dave Dana and chicks were sighted a month later.

Since the discovery bird watchers have been enjoying views of the birds – known for their kaleidoscopic plumage – at a designated viewing spot. The adult bee-eaters were seen searching for food for the chicks and eventually the juveniles were spotted after emerging from their nest burrow.

An incredible wildlife experience

‘I'd always wanted to see a bee-eater in this country but I never thought it would turn out to be a major wildlife event’ said volunteer Dave Dana. The birds are expected to leave for southern Africa within a week, flying thousands of miles across Europe to reach their winter feeding site.

As well as being only the third successful bee-eater breeding attempt on record in the UK in the last century, the bee-eaters’ arrival on the Isle of Wight has also been a dream come true for our Isle of Wight ranger Ian Ridett.

‘As a lifelong birdwatcher and passionate naturalist the last six weeks have been amazing,’ said Ian. ‘It’s been great that so many people have been able to share the experience of seeing these colourful and charismatic birds.’

Efforts to protect the bee-eaters

A dedicated operation to protect the birds and their eggs saw many of our volunteers and staff spend their free time (and often their nights) helping to keep a 24-hour watch on the nesting site. We also worked closely with the RSPB.

The bee-eaters set up home in the sandy hills of the Wydcombe Estate, where the soft ground, rolling landscape and stream access provided ideal conditions for their nest burrow and wasps, dragonflies, damselflies, butterflies and bumble bees offered a plentiful food supply.

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