EIGHT exotic bee-eater birds have hatched on the Isle of Wight.
It is an extraordinary feat which has only been recorded twice in the past 60 years.
Since the birds hatched, thousands of people have travelled to the island to catch a glimpse of the colourful visitors.
The chicks were raised from two separate nests, after a bee-eater was discovered by National Trust dragonfly survey volunteer Dave Dana on the Wydcombe Estate in July.
The nest was then located and the RSPB, National Trust and Isle of Wight naturalists quickly swung into action and started a 24-hour operation to protect the site from egg thieves.
The last time there was a successful breeding attempt was 2002, when a pair nested in a quarry in County Durham, before that two pairs were recorded raising seven young in a Sussex sandpit in 1955.
National Trust Isle of Wight Ranger, Ian Ridett, said: “As a lifelong birdwatcher and passionate naturalist the last six weeks have been amazing.
“To have these very special birds breeding on the Isle of Wight and successfully raising eight chicks is a dream come true.”
Now the birds are expected to leave to fly to their winter feeding site in Southern Africa this week, but it is hoped they will return to the Isle of Wight.
Wildlife adviser at the National Trust, Matthew Oates, said: “Climate change may well lure other Mediterranean birds, and migratory insects, to our shores. There are exciting times ahead for UK nature lovers.
“Bee-eaters are usually faithful to breeding sites so we're hoping that they return in 2015, but this will be dependent on weather and other perils of migration that birds face.”