Monday, 18 August 2014


Weekend on the Isle of Wight to see the nesting Bee-Eaters and having spent many a summer holiday as a child on the Island I was interested in seeing how the island had changed after 45 years and counting. Last time I was on the island was for an Alpine Accentor twitch in 1990 and before that a couple of twitches in the eighties for butterflies but had not spent any length of time here since 1969. Very excited volunteer wardens greeted me at the observation site on the Wydcombe Estate south of the island with news that 3 young had fledged the previous day and now being looked after by the parents and two helpers so 7 birds present but only three at any one time on view. Understandably they were distant but I gained good scope views from the helpful wardens. A good trickle of birders and inquisitive holiday makers came and went while I was there. Did not do a lot of other birding due to the blustery conditions but the best were Spotted Flycatcher at Wydcombe, 7 Little Egret from 3 locations, Mediterranean Gull adult at Bembridge, Greenshank and Black-tailed Godwit at Yarmouth and Nightjar at Parkhurst Forest. Overall impression of the island was good though I don’t think it will ever be a holiday destination again for me mainly because it is to big to cover at migration compared to other islands. 

European Bee-eaters have attempted to nest on five known occasions in Britain previous to this Isle of Wight attempt:
  • In 1920, a pair made a nesting attempt in a sand bank of the River Esk at Musselburgh, Scotland. A local gardener captured the female, keeping her in a greenhouse, and she died two days later, after laying a single egg.
  • In 1955, three pairs of Bee-eaters nested in Streat Sand Quarry near Plumpton, East Sussex. The birds were first found on 12 June, although the birds' presence only became widely known at the start of August. One nest was accidentally destroyed by machinery in July, but seven young fledged from the two remaining nests towards the end of August. An RSPB wardening operation was instigated, and in total over 1,000 people visited the site. The birds remained until 24 September.
  • A pair nested at Bishop Middleham Quarry, County Durham in 2002. The birds were first found on 2 June, and within a few days started to undertake Courtship feeding and copulation; five chicks hatched, but one died in the nest, one died before fledging, and a third disappeared and was also believed to have died. Durham Wildlife Trust (with RSPB assistance) set up a wardening post during the period when the birds were nesting. News was released to rare bird information services, and the national news media also reported on the birds' presence. In total, some 15,000 people visited the site during their stay; the adults and both fledged young were seen to leave on 28 August, when they flew off high to the south.
  • A pair took up residence on farmland adjacent to the River Wye near Hampton Bishop, Herefordshire in summer 2005; by mid-July the adults were bringing insect food to the riverbank nest-hole confirming that eggs had hatched. A wardening operation was set up by the RSPB, with public access granted, resulting in c.2,000 people seeing the birds. However, on the evening of 29 July, foxes predated the nest, and the birds soon left the site.
  • A pair excavated a nest hole at a coastal site in Dorset in 2006, but this attempt failed.......(source Wikipedia)
I was lucky enough to see the County Durham and Herefordshire birds


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