Hundreds flock to see exotic birds in Yarmouth bushes

Bee-eaters in Great Yarmouth

Pictures by Rob Holmes convey what he describes as a 'splash of Mediterranean avian exotica' that bee-eaters have brought to Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Rob Holmes

The largest ever flock of colourful bee-eaters to be seen in Norfolk has been spotted at a retail park.

Bee-eaters in Great Yarmouth

Bird enthusiast Stuart White was lucky to capture this shot of two of the nine bee-eaters in Great Yarmouth early on Monday morning, June 21, 2021. - Credit: Stuart White

When landowner Leon Docwra first saw a colourful bird in the hedge at home he had no idea what it was.

Having put a post on Facebook asking people to help identify the species and its "strange chattering sound" he was inundated with responses - and a flood of visitors to his land behind TK Maxx on the Gapton Hall Retail Park in Great Yarmouth.

Bird watchers on the look out for rare bee-eaters in Great Yarmouth.

Bird watchers flock to Leon Docwra's land behind the Gapton Hall Retail Park in Great Yarmouth to catch a glimpse of nine bee-eaters, the biggest flock ever recorded in Norfolk. - Credit: Leon Docwra

Since early on Monday (June 21) hundreds have headed to the spot where a record nine birds have now been spotted - making it the biggest ever flock to be seen in Norfolk.

Armed with long lenses and thousands of pounds worth of equipment birdwatchers - many who say they have only seen one individual across a whole lifetime - say they are stunned and amazed to see nine in one place.

Bee-eaters in Great Yarmouth

Pictures by Rob Holmes convey what he describes as a 'splash of Mediterranean avian exotica' that bee-eaters have brought to Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Rob Holmes

Chris Batty of Rare Bird Alert said it was unusual for the birds to settle creating an unrivalled photo opportunity for bird enthusiasts.

He described the appearance of the exotic looking birds as a "once in a generation" sighting.

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Usually they were spotted in flight and rarely settled for long in one place.

He said the bee-eaters liked to  nest in sandy banks, spending their days on wires catching bees.

Stuart White, from Thorpe St Andrew, was among the first on the scene.

He said: "The amazing thing was that two of them have been seen mating so there is a chance they might stick around and breed.

"While I was watching them they flew off and I could hear them as I walked across the car park near McDonalds.

"A lot of people were perplexed as to why we were there with our telescopes and cameras out."

Penny Clarke who has a birdwatching blog drove from Kings Lynn to Great Yarmouth to see the flock.

"I have only ever seen one at Northrepps and Cley. I have never seen more than one in the UK," she said.

Mr Docwra said he and his daughter had planted flowers and created a wild area near his pond - which may have attracted the exotic visitors.

Bee-eaters winter in Africa and are normally found nesting in southern Europe. It is rare for them to breed in the UK.




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