Rare bee-eater birds spotted in Cumbria

A rare bee-eater at Low Gelt. Credit: Mark Thomas (RSPB)

A rare and colourful breed of bird has been spotted in Cumbria, and it's expected to draw thousands of visitors over the summer.

Two pairs of bee-eater are currently raising their chicks at Hanson UK’s Low Gelt sand quarry near Brampton.

The rare breed is more commonly found in southern Europe, because of the warmer climate.

It's difficult to spot them, and some of the bird-watchers who are expected to flock to Brampton are likely to be disappointed.

But when they do come out, it's worth the wait, as they're known for their striking kaleidoscopic plumage.

Thousands are expected to visit. Credit: Mark Thomas (RSPB)

The birds have nested in Brampton by burrowing tunnels in the quarry banks.

The quarry's foreman first noticed them, flying amongst the sand martins.

Bee-eater sightings have really been on the increase in recent springs and we’re delighted to confirm they are breeding in the UK for the second consecutive summer.

Mark Thomas, from the RSPB

We often have to cordon off areas in our quarries where sand martins and little ringed plovers are breeding, but abee-eater sighting was a surprise to us all. Great credit goes to the employees at Low Gelt for recognising and protecting these birds.”

Hanson UK’s senior sustainability manager Martin Crow

The RSPB has set up a viewing point next to the quarry, and parking is available for a small charge.

Entrance to the quarry is prohibited, and disturbance of their nests could be a criminal offence.