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Thursday, 29 August, 2002, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
Bee-eaters fly the nest
Bee-eaters
The bee-eaters arrived at the quarry in June
The first pair of bee-eaters to breed in the UK for 50 years have flown their nest.

The two adults and two surviving chicks were seen flying south on Wednesday from their temporary home at Middleham Quarry nature reserve in County Durham.

It is thought the birds - normally found in southern Europe - were leaving the nest to fly to their winter home in Africa.

About 12,000 birdwatchers have flocked to the quarry since the exotic birds were first sighted in June.

Long migration

They were the first nesting pair to be seen in the UK since a pair bred in East Sussex in 1955.

Birdwatcher Ron White, who lives in Darlington, saw the bee-eaters in Sussex and visited Middleham Quarry on Tuesday for a glimpse of the latest visitors.

He told BBC Look North he could still recall seeing the bee-eaters 47 years ago.

"It was quite incredible and I wondered if it would ever happen again.

"It has, but it has taken some 40 or 50 years."

Ron White
Ron White has seen both pairs of bee-eaters

Wardens from the Durham Wildlife Trust believe the birds have started on their long migration south towards their eventual "wintering" area in tropical Africa.

The adult birds and their two chicks were last seen on Wednesday at 0915 BST when the four birds flew up high over the quarry.

They joined a flock of migrating swallows, before heading off at high altitude.

The bee-eater family did not return to the quarry on Wednesday night and have not been seen since.

Wardens believe the birds are unlikely to be seen back in the area.

Unless they do re-appear, the public viewpoint will close by the weekend.


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24 Aug 02 | England
24 Jul 02 | England
11 Jun 02 | England
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