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BBC Double Down On Bee-Eater Disinformation.

September 1, 2022
tags: ,

By Paul Homewood


h/t Joe Public



Back in June, the BBC published a report claiming that recent sightings of bee-eaters in Norfolk were a “worrying sign of climate change”. It was quickly utterly discredited as old ornithology books show that bee-eater sightings are not uncommon, even in Victorian times,

Nevertheless the BBC continue to double down:




A colony of breeding bee-eaters have successfully hatched chicks in the UK and migrated south for winter, the RSPB has said.

European bee-eaters, rare to UK shores, set up home in a disused quarry in Trimingham, Norfolk, in June.

The RSPB said the flock’s residence was "a red alert for global warming".

The bird’s breeding attempts in the UK have increased, with six nests recorded in the past 20 years, the charity added.

As is par for the course, the BBC offer no actual data to back up their lazy assertions.

So Joe Public has gone one stage further, and uncovered a veritable flock of bee-eater sightings going all the way back to 1793:



All of the records of sightings have been extremely well researched, for example:


1). 1793 Norfolk Mattishall, twenty, one shot, June; same, small flock, seen, October.

(J. E. Smith, Transactions of the Linnean Society 3: 333; Latham, 1801; Fleming, 1828; Jenyns, 1835; Yarrell, 1845; Gurney, 1876; Yarrell, 1871-85; Gurney, 1884, 1921; Riviere, 1930).

History James Edward Smith (1794) in the Transactions of the Linnean Society, Vol. III. p. 333, in extracts from the minutes read on 2nd July, 1794, says: ‘The President communicated an account of Merops apiaster, the Bee-eater, having been shot (for the first time in Great Britain), near Mattishall, in the county of Norfolk, by the Rev. George Smith. The identical specimen was exhibited, by permission of Mr. Thomas Talbot, of Wymondham. A flight of about twenty was seen in June, and the same flight probably (much diminished in numbers) was observed passing over the same spot in October following.’

Latham (1801: 149, 2nd supp.) says: ‘The Bee-eater has been observed at Mattishall, in Norfolk, in a flock, about twenty in number; and one of them shot by the Reverend George Smith which was exhibited to the Linnean Society. This flock passed near the above place in June, and again, on their return in October following, 1793, but in reduced numbers.’

Fleming (1828: 90) says: ‘An individual was shot at Mattishall in Norfolk, a notice of which was communicated to the Linnean Society, 2nd July 1794, by the Rev. George Smith: "A flight of about twenty was seen in June, and the same flight, probably (much diminished in numbers), was observed passing over the same spot in October following". Linn. Trans. III. 333.’

Jenyns (1835: 156) says: ‘A flight of about twenty was observed near Mattishall in Norfolk, and one killed, in June, 1794.’

Yarrell (1845 (2): 217-218, 2nd ed.) says: ‘No specimen of the Common Bee-eater of Africa appears to be recorded to have been killed in England till the summer of 1794, when a communication was made to the Linnean Society, and a specimen of this beautiful bird was exhibited by the President, Sir James Edward Smith, which had been shot out of a flock of about twenty near Mattishall, Norfolk, in the month of June, by the Rev. George Smith, and a portion probably of this same flight, much diminished in numbers, was observed passing over the same spot in the month of October following.’

Gurney (1876: 148) in a footnote, says: ‘The first known British specimens of the Bee-eater were shot in Norfolk in 1794. One of them was given by Mr. Thomas Talbot of Wymondham to Sir J. E. Smith, who after lending it to Mr. Lewin to take its portrait (B. B. II. p. 28) and exhibiting it to the Linnean Society, gave it – according to the late Mr. Lombe’s MS. – to Lord Stanley, and I suppose it is now in the Museum of Liverpool.’

Alfred Newton (1876-82 (2): 435-436, 4th ed.) in Yarrell’s British Birds, adds: ‘…shot at Mattishall in Norfolk, in June 1793, as Latham (Syn. Suppl. II. p. 149) says, out of a flight of about twenty, some survivors of which probably were observed at the same spot in the following October (Trans. Linn. Soc. III. p. 333). The specimen was figured by Lewin (Br. B. pl. 43), whose plate is dated "Nov. 7, 1793", and, having been given by Smith to Lord Derby, is now with the rest of his collection at Liverpool, as its curator Mr. T. J. Moore believes.’

Gurney (1884: 20) says: ‘The first killed in England were two shot at Mattishall in 1793.’ Gurney (1921) p. 229 in his Early Annals of Ornithology lists the first record for Britain as occurring in 1793 (Sir J. E. Smith).

Altogether the archive lists 80 sightings between 1793 and 1957. In addition there are many other potential sightings which have been rejected due to lack of definite proof.


Interestingly many of the earlier sightings mention the birds being shot, which was of course the norm in Victorian times. It is hardly surprising that the poor little blighters did not hang around for breeding!!

  1. Terry Breverton permalink
    September 1, 2022 6:23 pm

    The Marquess of Bute in the 19th century had successful vineyards in South Wales – made billions in today’s money as an impoverished Scots family married a Welsh lady, the sole inheritor of virtually all the Glamorgan and Monmouthshire coal areas. Made Cardiff the busiest port in the world

    Sent from Outlook

  2. Ian Magness permalink
    September 1, 2022 6:33 pm

    Well done JP! The BBC will brush this off but they’ve been caught publishing utter rubbish yet again.
    Incidentally, this follows a recent episode – as reported in various media groups including the BBC, the Telegraph and the Mail – where a swordfsh sighting has been attributed to “warming seas”. It was “not in its normal range” and “incredibly rare – only 5 sightings off Britain EVAH”. A few seconds on Google is all that it takes to expose this as complete nonsense as swordfish, dead or alive, are seen in British waters every couple of years or so and, as with bee-eaters, records go back a long time. Further, as they are infinitely less likely to be spotted than bee-eaters, you can be sure that many times more visit than are recorded.
    Why is it so hard for journalists these days to do just a minute or two of basic research before publishing nonsense?

    • Ian Magness permalink
      September 1, 2022 6:43 pm

      PS Should have added: Despite studying this subject for years I have never seen a definitive study that shows that the seas around our coasts are actually warming. The likes of the BBC keep broadcasting this faithfully but where do they get their information from? Most importantly, how reliable is the data, how wide is the geographic range of data gathering and how long does it go back in time (anything less than about 100 years being meaningless)?
      If any NALOPKT readers know of reliable studies, please let us know.

      • Ben Vorlich permalink
        September 1, 2022 6:55 pm

        Is this the sort of thing?

        Over 10 million seawater temperature records for the
        United Kingdom Continental Shelf between 1880 and
        2014 from 17 Cefas (United Kingdom government)
        marine data systems

      • Julian Flood permalink
        September 2, 2022 11:53 am

        I’ve seen graphs showing warming — the North Sea was one I remember.

        Let me bang on about my hobbyhorse. The Sea of Marmora is warming three times faster than the average. Ditto the Black Sea and to a lesser extent (but still not explicable by CO2 warming) parts of the Med, the Red Sea, the Sea of Japan etc etc. Best data is probably the Great Lakes in the USA.

        My contention is that pollution — a oil/surfactant smoothed sea surface has lower albedo and less evaporative cooling than a pristine one — is causing some ocean warming but research is needed to see if the effect is significant. See Ruf Evans paper on microplastic pollution — it turned out that the smooth was more significant than the microplastic, and there’s a study, also involving Ruf, on albedo reduction on smoothed water. I have seen a smooth covering tens of thousands of square miles between Porto and Madeira.

        I can’t rouse any interest — after all, the science is settled.

        Paul, you have my email address.

    • Ben Vorlich permalink
      September 1, 2022 6:45 pm

      Normal response from BBC usually just repeats parts of the article/broadcast and finishes up with these lying platitudes.

      We do value your feedback about this. All complaints are sent to senior management, we’ve included your points in our overnight report.

      This is among the most widely read sources of feedback in the company and ensures that your concerns have been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future content.

      About half the time I appeal and ask for a proper response. This usually ends up with the usual “We’re the BBC and we know best” response.

      • Ian Magness permalink
        September 1, 2022 7:01 pm

        That sea dataset looks useful Ben, thank you. I’ll have to study it over the next few days to see it tells a story.

  3. September 1, 2022 6:43 pm

    It was ERIC HUX, in his comment of June 27, 2022 12:10 pm here:

    …. who highlighted that excellent source of historical bee-eater records.

  4. September 1, 2022 7:03 pm

    “Interestingly many of the earlier sightings mention the birds being shot, which was of course the norm in Victorian times.”

    The only good from that practice was that a number of beautiful cadavers were presented to museums. That makes at least provides tangible, undeniable evidence of their existence!

    Just some of the many references:

    “1825 Suffolk Gisleham, Beccles, immature, killed, spring, now at Castle Museum, Norwich.”

    “1828 Cornwall Near Helston, twelve, seen, eleven shot, May…..
    … One of these is in the museum of the Plymouth Athenaeum”

    “Pre 1834 Dorset Chideock, shot, undated, now at Bridport Museum.”

    “1834 Sussex Icklesham, shot, August, now at Booth Museum, Brighton.”

    ” 1844 Kent Lydd, adult, killed, undated, now at Dover Museum.”

    “1854 Norfolk River Yare, Coldham Hall, pair, killed, 3rd June, now at Sheringham Hall, National Trust.”

    “c. 1854 Pembrokeshire Near Johnston, killed, undated….
    … ‘There is a specimen in the collection of Mr. H. Mathias, now with his other birds at the Tenby Museum”

    ” 1866 Avon Stapleton, near Bristol, Somerset, four, three shot, early May, now at Bristol City Museum.”

    “1868 Suffolk Brandon Heath, male, shot, undated, now at Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery”

    ” 1869 Clyde Black Cart River, Walkinshaw, Paisley, Renfrewshire, August….
    …Mr. Bell afterwards showed the keeper the collection of British birds in the Paisley Museum, and was gratified on finding that he at once recognized the Bee Eater as the bird which he had seen.’ “

  5. Stuart Hamish permalink
    September 1, 2022 10:19 pm

    Was it the French Revolution Reign of Terror or the onset of the Dalton Minimum that prompted European Bee Eaters to flock to England in 1793 ? ……Are they any less ridiculous than the BBC’s ‘red alert for global warming ” …?…

  6. September 2, 2022 12:33 am

    I recall watching an episode of “To the Manor Born” where there was a rare sighting of bee eaters at Grantleigh Manor in Somerset. I think that it was in the 1980s. This was a BBC production so it must be true!

  7. Phoenix44 permalink
    September 2, 2022 8:47 am

    Even without previous sightings, the claim that this is “climate change” is preposterous. There’s literally no evidence this is a long-term change in habitat – there cannot be such evidence yet. Single events can never prove anything.

  8. Gamecock permalink
    September 2, 2022 1:34 pm


    John James Audubon, the celebrated naturalist and artist who is the namesake of the American birders – National Audubon Society – shot the birds. His level of detail was possible because the cadaver was right in front of him.

  9. Gamecock permalink
    September 2, 2022 1:36 pm

    ‘The RSPB said the flock’s residence was “a red alert for global warming”.’

    They are just lying, now; shilling for the Marxist cause.

    They know damn well that migrating birds get blown of course by storms, then make the best of where they land.

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