Visiting the northernmost breeding area of these multicolored summer guests
Summer residence of the bee-eaters – a gravel pit near the village of Gerswalde (district Buchholz), Uckermark
Last Saturday I joined an ornithological excursion to this site led by ornithologist Derk Ehlert who is also the responsible Wildlife Officer of Berlin. Due to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic the group had to be reduced to 8 people for ensuring necessary security rules. Fortunately, weather was fine so the bee-eaters were very active outside of their nesting caves. Once a bee-eater even flew over our heads, but the birds live inside the pit, a restricted area, so we could watch them usually only from a distance of 200-250 m.
Spotting scopes and binoculars required for observation of birds
Bee-eaters (merops apiaster) belong to the bird genus merops, a name emerging also in Greek mythology. There, Merops used to be the mythical king of the Meroper on the Greek island of Kos who had been transformed to an eagle by the goddess Hera. And the bee-eaters also like the Mediterranean area and prefer warm climates.
In a hill next to the gravel pit some holes and abandoned nest caves which might also be the work of black-tailed swallows (riparia riparia)
I found the place very fascinating, the mixture of technology, archaic steppe and wildlife an interesting symbiosis. The bee-eaters have seized a new living space here in the North where they apparently feel quite comfortable in summer.
Bird mural by Don Johnson for Urban Nation, Berlin