BIRDWATCHERS are all set to descend on Shetland’s most northerly isle to spy one of the rarest birds ever to alight on Scottish soil after the tiny Cape May Warbler from America was spotted on Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile a charter plane with four people from Yorkshire on board left Shetland’s most southerly isle disappointed after failing to set eyes on another rare bird.
Unst teacher Mike Pennington, who found the Cape May Warbler in a sycamore tree in the garden of the Manse at Baltasound, said he believed it was only the second sighting in Europe.
He said it was likely to attract considerable interest in birding circles as it had only been spotted by two people in 1977 when it flew into Paisley, near Glasgow.
Pennington, who edits the Shetland Bird Report, said the Cape May Warbler was probably the dullest of all the American wood warblers that accidentally end up on UK shores during the seasonal migration, but would be easily identifiable to the expert eye.
“It’s a little green bird but has big bars on its wing, white on the tail and a little greeny, bronzy badge on the side of its neck,” he said.
The tiny bird should have stopped in the West Indies for the winter after leaving the arboreal forests of the USA, but instead of coming all the way across the Atlantic.
Shetland’s other main birding attraction this week has flown in the opposite direction from the middle of Asia to land in a field on Fair Isle.
The adult male Siberian Rubythroat inspired a quartet of Yorkshire enthusiasts to charter a small plane to fly north to see it, only to be redirected to Sumburgh due to fog around 1pm on Wednesday.
Three hours later the sky cleared and the plane landed on Fair Isle’s small airstrip, but was forced to take off again just one hour later due to the building westerly airstream.
Unfortunately during their 60 minute sojourn on the world famous island the adventurers failed to catch sight of their target and were last heard of heading for Orkney to look for more rare species.
This is the 10th UK sighting of the Siberian Rubythroat, five of which have been on Fair Isle.
A far more dazzling creature, as its name suggests it has a bright red throat beneath a distinctive black and white face, and should be spending its winter in India.
This video of the Siberian Rubythroat was taken by Fair Isle resident Tommy Hyndman on Tuesday.