Rare ‘rainbow birds’ set up summer home in Norfolk

Bee-eaters in Norfolk. Photo: Mike Edgecombe
  • Seven bee-eaters were first spotted over the Jubilee Weekend and are now being closely monitored by the RSPB and the North East Norfolk Bird Club. Ensuring the protection of these rare birds, the only ones breeding in the UK, is crucial if they are to raise youngsters.
  • Behind the spectacle are concerns that these are exotic birds should be enjoying the Mediterranean climate. Their increasingly regular visits to the UK, even in small numbers, is a worrying sign of how our climate is changing before our eyes.
  • Having previously been rare visitors, this is now the sixth UK breeding attempt in the past 20 years. A first for Norfolk, the birds are “among the most exciting birds you can see in the UK right now” according to the RSPB.

The RSPB is closely monitoring the breeding attempt, with seven sets of rainbow wings setting hearts a-flutter.

The brightly-coloured birds – rare visitors from southern Europe and northern Africa – were found by local birdwatcher, Andy Chamberlain, over the Jubilee Weekend and have since been seen making nest burrows in a small quarry at Trimingham, near Cromer.

Bee-eaters in Norfolk. Photo: Mike Edgecombe

About the size of a starling, bee-eaters can be identified by their red backs, blue bellies and yellow throats. As well as bees, they feed on dragonflies and other flying insects, which they catch in mid-air. With beautiful flutey-calls to match their vibrant colours, they are an unmistakable visitor to have arrived in Norfolk.

The RSPB’s Mark Thomas said:

These seven bee-eaters are certainly the most colourful and exciting birds you can see in the UK right now. In 2017, thousands of people caught sight of the birds in Nottinghamshire, and we expect the same will happen again here in Norfolk.

While an incredible sight, we mustn’t forget that the arrival of these birds to our shores is due to changes to our climate and subsequent pressures on wildlife both here and across the globe. Pushed northwards by climate change, these exotic birds will likely become established summer visitors in the future, having been an early and unmissable sign in the past two decades that the Nature and Climate Emergency has reached our shores.

The RSPB and North-East Norfolk Bird Club are working together to enable everyone to enjoy the sight of these magnificently coloured birds from a safe distance so as to ensure the birds have the best chance at nesting.

Bee-eaters in Norfolk. Photo: Mike Edgecombe

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. (What3words Car parking costs £5 to cover site monitoring.


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