Tuesday, 6 November 2012

European Bee-eater: More on this great bird

On Sunday I had a great trip up to County Durham in order to twitch the European Bee-eater, which as it turned out put on an excellent performance for all-comers.

This bird was a UK tick for me. I'd never bothered to twitch one before for a few reasons:

1. I've seen plenty of European Bee-eater on my travels through Europe and Africa, in fact this species was a 'lifer' for me in late October (23rd) 1996, in Kenya, presumably where the Durham bird should be right about now!  During the northern winter we used to get them near our house over there, and during passage periods numbers would be very impressive. Had some great times with European Bee-eaters in Cyprus a couple of years ago when I had thousands go through on spring passage, and also last year when in France where I came across a breeding colony thanks to a great tip-off!

2. I was out of the country when the pair bred in County Durham in 2002 (first confirmed breeding attempt in UK for about 50 years) and again when they bred (before the nest got predated) in 2005.

3. I think you're nearly always likely to dip on a twitch anywhere near here (Yorkshire), almost annual at Spurn I guess but most likely you have to be there at the time to see them as they fly through, and too risky to twitch somewhere like Norfolk from Yorkshire as they are likely to just clear off! It was a bit gutting last year when Dave and I went to the Scillies and a bird that had been present for about 3 months cleared off the day we arrived!

4. I've always had the hope that I'd connect with one whilst out doing a survey somewhere, but then now I'm doing far less surveys and more office work my potential time in the field to connect is rapidly decreasing, then there is the FEAR.... you hear the instantaneously recognisable call high in the sky on a sunny spring day but can you see the birds..... no chance!

After a fairly lean autumn I decided enough was a enough... and I'm glad I went for what is definitely one of my favourite birds!

European Bee-eater © Andy Walker 2012

European Bee-eater © Andy Walker 2012


  1. Always smart birds to see wherever they are. Back in 87 got home to Pickering after a long day of Phase 1 on the moors to find an answerphone message. A mate had found 4 on his way to work. Possibly my shortest twitch ever across town but achieved in record breaking time

  2. Its a week early in my opinion, why couldn't it wait until I was back in Englandshire next weekend!?

  3. Ah! I hope it hangs around for you, still there today.... There was also a couple of bee-type-things attracted to by high-viz vest today so may be hope as long as there's not too many frosts...