The Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) is undoubtedly one of the most colourful distributions among our local bird life and is one of Baden-Württemberg’s rare nesting birds. The breeding population is spread over a total of four key areas, the Kaiserstuhl, the districts of Heidenheim and Sigmaringen and the northern Kraichgau in Wiesloch. In particular, the latter distribution is one of the oldest populations in Baden-Württemberg and has a turbulent past. After the population was destroyed in 1976, a lasting repopulation has taken place since the turn of the century, in the former breeding area. Since the first years of the repopulation were restricted primarily to the former breeding habitat, the Nußloch Quarry, and another location, have for a number of years served as additional breeding and regular habitat for bee-eaters in northern Kraichgau. As a thermophilic species of bird, bee-eaters inhabit open, warm cultivated landscapes with loess escarpments, which they use as a facility for their nests. Within the framework of the existing research concept, there should be not only a basic record and analysis of the existing population in the research area, but a sustained and practically-oriented protection scheme should also be established, which not only allows itself to be integrated into the existing utilisation plans but which also considers the current population in a landscape context.

Final Results

Was it a good or a bad year for our Bee-eaters? For 3 years we are observing the Bee-eaters in our area intensively and know about the records before 2014. Last year we had 27 breeding pairs in 3 breeding sides – much more than the years before. End of August we could count 150 birds flying to their sleeping tree. That means more than 94 young birds and 3,6 chicks/pair. Pictures from R. Mund , young bird sitting to the left side.

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New tenants - A closer look on companion species

During our systematic observations we determined different bird species and other taxa which benefit from the same habitat resources as the Bee-Eaters.

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Breakfast, lunch and dinner!

The Bee Eater’s Food Spectrum during the Breeding Season! During our project we tried to identify the insect species as precise as possible. With the use of high-magnifying scopes and digiscoping we could at least identify the visually conspicuous ones on species level. Bust mostly we had to group them on a higher taxonomic level.

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Bee-eaters and their Predators Part 2 Set-Back in the Quarry

Beside birds of prey who try to catch bee-eaters outside their nests, snakes and some mammals manage to enter the breeding-holes and feed the eggs or chicks. What happened in the Nussloch- Quarry?

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The Bee–eaters' neighbors

The companion species of the Bee-eaters at Nussloch Quarry is Riparia riparia, or Sand Martin, the smallest swallow species in Europe.

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Bee-eaters and their Predators Part 1 Birds of Prey

A lot of birds of prey visit the Nussloch-Quarry. Nearly daily we watched Common Buzzard, Black and Red Kite- sometimes together- patrolling the quarry. The bee-eater’s reaction was very different. Only when the raptors came nearer they started in the air and tried to disturb them. Those raptors have little chance to catch a bee-eater, our birds are too nimble. But .....

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A historical view on our bee-eater population part 2

After their disappearance in 1978 the bee-eaters returned and entered their road to success about 20 years later. Today they are not only an annual breeding-bird but also a flying jewel and an important and popular example for nature conservation in quarries and pits. Read more in the following article!

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A historical view on our bee-eater population part 1

The appearance of the bee-eater as a nesting bird around the Nussloch Quarry is nothing new, as the first detection of this beautiful species goes back to 1850. In that year local naturalists found at least one breeding pair near Maisbach. Since then there had been no more verified recordings around Wiesloch until the rediscovery in 1965. Nevertheless, several local farmers presumed that the bee-eaters had been appearing annually as nesting...

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Meeting the Film Team and new results

Friday 9th of July we met the film-team together with HDCement representatives Tina and Victoria (see upgrate Nr. 1) near the Nussloch Quarry . The weather was sunny and 30° C gave us hope for good observations. Altogether we were 9 persons and a little bit afraid if the bee-eaters would accept us in that number or disappear anywhere.

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Good neighborhood with Palatina’s bee-eater experts.

Last Sunday we followed an invitation of Jörn Weiss to visit one of the biggest bee-eater breeding sites. We were impressed by the number of birds flying in the sandpit near Lambsheim. About 40 pairs of bee-eaters and more than 60 pairs of sand martins. With Jörn – he is coordinating the bee-eater team of Palatina’s GNOR- we discussed the influence of weather and the expected 2016 breeding success.

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Field methods and observations so far

Binoculars and scopes are indispensable tools for observing bee-eaters. Keeping distance is necessary to avoid disturbing the birds. We collect our data in field by an standardized record sheet - including observation time, weather data, bird numbers, breeding pairs, the burrows in use and behavioural categories.

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What do bee-eaters eat?

The bee-eaters in the Nussloch-Quarry have arrived completely. Between 12 and 15 pairs started breeding - we’ll find out exactly in the next weeks. The birds have to feed their breeding partners.

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In the first weekend of May the birds reached the quarry. Arrived!                                                                        ...

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Some preparations...

April 15th: work activity at the breeding wall in the evening including chainsaw and branch saw. Recording and documenting the 2015 breeding tubes. Setting up the camo tent at a safe distance from the wall in order to watch and film the birds without disturbing them.

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First inspection of the bee-eater team in the Nussloch quarry

On 9th of April our Bee-eater-Team visited the quarry of Nussloch for the first time - instructed by Viktoria Schleidowiz (Marketing) and Tina Gölzer (Biologist) from HeidelbergCement. The first impressive encounter was a pair of Eagle Owls.

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