Twelve days ago we went public with the brilliant news of nesting bee-eaters in Cumbria, well a lot has happened since then, we have been really busy but we are back with an update.

Firstly, the response to the news was staggering, dawn on Friday 31st July saw keen visitors queuing up to enter the site and see the birds ! We had to put out a prompt message – these birds don’t wake up and leave the nest until around 7.30am !

Since then we estimate we have received over 2500 visitors, its great to report that everyone has behaved really well and enjoyed the opportunity provided. A small number of visitors have been un-able to reach the viewpoint but we have done our best to help provide views from the car park, the birds often perch in the trees near the car park and from here give their best views. It’s a hard balance ensuring the birds are not disturbed and satisfying the demand to see such beautiful birds – we hope we are getting it right! It’s really encouraging that we have had lots of families and amateur birders visiting and mixing with keen birders. 

The birds are doing well, as previously reported we had a maximum of six birds in the quarry with two of these being helpers. The situation changed about a week ago when it was clear the second nesting attempt had fizzled out, we were never fully sure of the exact state of the second nest site as the birds behaviour indicated its development was lagging behind the primary nest and monitoring was tricky as it was not visible except from inside the quarry. The nest has certainly not been predated or suffered any form of incident as it is inaccessible, so a natural failure. Four birds were then seen on several dates but this has now settled to three regular adult birds, the pair and a helper. The primary nest hatched the day before public opening, we had been waiting eagerly, all ready to go. It was such a relief to see an adult enter the nest carrying food, in this case a Speckled Wood butterfly. Since then food provisioning has massively increased with visits around ten minutes at busy times.

It is no foregone conclusion that the nest will be successful as several factors are at play but we will give it our best efforts. Firstly, we have had rain, really heavy rain on several days, rain that has reshaped the nesting bank considerably, in fact whole sections of it have washed away but thankfully not the nest. Then we have had a fox, walking above the nest in broad daylight. As a result we are continuing to guard the nest around the clock, with a warden sat below the nest in the quarry overnight, every night, armed with a powerful torch and a portable radio tuned to BBC Radio 5 Live! We also have a small number of Crows which are perching above the nest and stopping the adults coming in with food on occasions, we are closely monitoring that situation.  

So all in all this is a real emotional rollercoaster for our staff, trying to give nature a home isn’t always that easy! If all goes well then we expect the young to start appearing at the nest entrance and to fledge 25-30 days after hatching (so roughly weekend of 29th-30th August). The dependent juveniles should then hang around the quarry for another 10 days or so.

If you haven’t visited yet then you still have time to do so,  the quarry is at postcode CA8 1SY, just off the A69 at Brampton, Cumbria - signposted when you get there. The watchpoint is open 8am --8pm daily with several RSPB staff on hand to assist with your visit. Follow us on Twitter @rspbbirders for the latest news. Thanks must again go to Hanson, Cumbria Police and the land owner who kindly made this possible by allowing the use of his field for visitor parking. There is a £5 parking charge with 50% going towards the RSPB staffing costs.

Fingers crossed !