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BEE-EATERS NEST IN COUNTY DURHAM

In 2002, news broke that amazed the world of birding. A pair of bee-eaters had been spotted in a County Durham quarry! When it became obvious they were not moving on to somewhere warmer, hopes rose that they might try to nest. It soon became apparent they were trying to do just that.

The exceptional nature of this event can be judged from the fact that the last time bee-eaters nested successfully in England was in 1955, and that was close to the south coast. These are birds which winter in southern Africa, flying north to breed in southern Europe and parts of Asia. They rarely venture further north than central France.

The rest has become history. The bee-eaters did nest and during late August two surviving chicks joined their parents above the quarry and fields at Bishop Middleham.

LATEST NEWS - Two birds and their parents headed south on 28th August 2002 and have not been seen since.

bee-eater

I visited Bishop Middleham four times whilst the bee-eaters were nesting and took these photographs on my third visit. I apologise for the quality but they are my record of a unique event. They were taken with a Pentax Optio 330, hand-held against the eyepiece of a Kowa TSN-822 telescope. Both telescope and camera were zoomed to make the image size acceptable and to avoid vignetting.

bee-eater

The birds regularly perched on these power lines. I only had time to snap these three pictures because they seemed forever on the move. All three pictures were taken on 7 August 2002.

bee-eater

Durham Wildlife Trust have a web page devoted to this historic event - click here to visit their page.


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