|The exotic Bee-eater|
Back in April, I was seeing multi-coloured Bee-eaters almost every day during my visit to the Extramadura region of Spain, but now I discover that I could simply take the ferry over to the Isle of Wight to go and watch them!
This is because a pair of Bee-eaters are breeding this year on National Trust land on the island, hopefully becoming only the third record of this exotic southern European species to breed successfully in the UK in the last century.
Bee-eaters, which would normally be found nesting in southern Europe, were last recorded breeding successfully in the UK in 2002, when a pair nested in a quarry in County Durham and two young successfully fledged. Before that, two pairs were recorded raising seven young in a Sussex sand pit in 1955, though a pair failed in Herefordshire in 2005.
The pair have chosen the sandy hills of the Wydcombe Estate (in the south of the island) in a small valley where the soft ground, rolling landscape and stream access provides ideal conditions for their nest burrow, which can be up to three metres long.
Further information on the Wydcombe Bee-eaters can be found on Ian Ridett's blog at: www.facebook.com/IsleofWightNT.
A designated public viewing point has been identified overlooking the birds' favourite feeding area so that visitors can get the best possible views of them. This will be carefully managed, though, as the birds' well-being and welfare takes priority. If you want to go and see them, the Wydcombe Estate is located at PO38 2NY (grid reference SZ511787).