Two of the juvenile Isle of Wight bee-eaters. Picture courtesy of Andy Butler.
FOUR of the Isle of Wight’s bee-eater chicks have fledged, as thousands of bird-lovers flock to the Island to witness the rare sight.
It is the first time the birds, who usually nest in southern Europe, have bred successfully in the UK for 12 years.
Three of the chicks flew last week and the fourth tried out its wings in the last couple of days.
If they survive, it will be the most successful ever bee-eater breeding attempt in Britain.
The bee-eaters made their nest — a hole in the ground — on the National Trust’s Wydcombe estate, near Niton, more than a month ago.
National Trust ranger and birder Ian Ridett said: "We are delighted to see the juveniles are out and progressing well.
"We’ve worked day and night with a team of over 60 volunteers and staff from the National Trust, RSPB and the Isle of Wight Ornithological Group to monitor the site and provide a supervised viewing area for visitors.
"Around 3,000 people from around the UK have been rewarded with views of the adults catching bees and dragonflies. The question that everyone is asking is, 'will they return next year?’ However, it all depends on the weather and a degree of chance.
"With changing weather and climate, this is just one of the examples of birds and butterflies that are starting to spread north and west into the UK. The IW has some great habitats and is in pole position for events like this to re-occur."
Matthew Oates, NT’s wildlife and butterfly expert, described the Island’s bee-eaters as the most amazing birds I’ve ever seen in the UK.