We went to see the Bee-eaters at East Leake Quarry today. I had been planning a visit to Bempton to see the Puffins but Julia persuaded me that we really should visit the rarities. My experience with rare birds is that they have normally gone by the time I get there, or if they are still there I wouldn’t recognise it if it pecked me on the bottom.
Take Richard’s Pipit as an example. They turn up regularly and excite twitchers. To me they’re just a brown bird, as are most of the other pipits.
The postcode is LE12 6RG if you want to pop along. Parking is £5, split between farmer and RSPB. The car park is 385 yards from the viewing area, according to the volunteers at the car park. These things are important when you have a bad knee.
The meadows on the way to the viewing area were full of butterflies, including Ringlet (hundreds of them!), Meadow Brown, Comma, Small Tortoiseshell and Large Skipper. There were some Whites too – but at a distance they all look the same to me. I need to get my eye in again. I didn’t manage many photos as they kept fluttering about instead of settling.
Eventually we arrived at the viewing point. The birds proved to be very obliging, using a selection of dead branches to perch on when eating bees. Julia managed to watch one eating a dragonfly., which I missed because I was watching one posing in the sunlight.
They are bright and exotic birds, but in truth just a little bit garish, like a bird designed for a Primary School project. Still good to see though.
We only saw three against the maximum of seven that have been seen, but with any luck the others are off nesting. There are records of successful breeding in the UK, as detailed in the links at the beginning of the post, so there is no reason why they shouldn’t be breeding. They like to burrow into sandbanks and this is a sand quarry with an active population of Sand Martins, who also burrow into the banks.
Sorry the photos aren’t very good, but the birds were a long way off. It wasn’t just me having problems – the people with the big expensive lenses were having problems too. When the day heats up, things start to get hazy, and this spoils the photo quality. I don’t feel as bad about my photos now…