Since eight rare bee-eaters took up residence in a Norfolk quarry last month, thousands of people have enjoyed unparalleled views of some of the most colourful birds on the planet.
Now, thanks to a live nestcam which has been set up at the site, everyone will have the chance to watch the birds – from the comfort of their own homes through the live feed on our YouTube web page.
The bee-eaters, which normally nest in southern Europe and northern Africa, appeared suddenly in early June and soon began excavating nest burrows. There are two active nests, and chicks are likely to hatch any day now, according to the RSPB. Volunteers have been monitoring the site night and day, to ensure the birds have the best chance of safely raising their young.
Previously rare visitors to our shores, this is now the sixth UK record of nesting bee-eaters in the past 20 years. But behind the spectacle are concerns that their increasingly regular visits to the UK, even in small numbers, is a sign of how our climate is changing before our eyes.
About the size of a starling, bee-eaters are unmistakable with red backs, turquoise bellies and bright yellow throats. They can also be identified by their cheerful call of ‘Prrp! Prrp!’ Bee-eaters are highly social and raise their chicks communally. Single birds from a previous brood are likely to help out the two breeding pairs with duties like incubating and feeding.
As well as various species of bee, they feed on dragonflies and other flying insects, which they catch in mid-air.
The camera will be streaming live every day from 7am-9pm.
Mark Thomas, Head of RSPB Investigations said: “Nestcams for other species have proved incredibly popular, and we hope to make everyone feel part of the bee-eaters’ story by streaming this live footage. I for one will be glued to the screen watching for the first glimpse of a chick getting its first sight of the world beyond its burrow.
“Of course, nothing beats seeing them in person, but it’s great that technology now enables us to bring the lives of these bee-eaters into our homes.
“We expect the birds to remain until the end of summer, and our viewing site is still open for those wanting to visit in person. Thousands have been already and seen the bee-eaters fly, feed and mate, and the reaction from both keen birders and those new to nature watching has been wonderful to see. Nothing beats a bee-eater for ‘wow’ factor!”
Located to the east of the quarry, the car park and viewing area can be found in a large grass field off Gimingham Road at TG284384 or this What3Words location. Car parking costs £5 to cover site monitoring.
More information on the birds, the nestcam and visiting the site can be found on our bee-eater web page.
Follow @RSPBbirders or #BeeEaters for updates.
Image: Mike Edgecombe