Tiny bird causes euphoria among twitchers

The Siberian Accentor at Mossy Hill, Shetland - Photo: Hugh Harrop

BIRD WATCHERS from across the country are on their way to Shetland to catch a rare glimpse of a Siberian accentor, the first ever recorded in Britain.

The tiny bird was discovered at Mossy Hill, near Scousburgh, on Sunday afternoon by Shetland Wildlife guides Judd Hunt and Hugh Harrop.

“We were just checking the quarry at Mossy Hill, which is good for migrants now and then, when Judd set eyes on this bird and got very excited,” Harrop described the moment they realised the “magnitude” of their discovery.


“Judd said ‘I think I got a Siberian accentor’,” Harrop continued. “It was total euphoria; we were both physically shaking.”

The news soon made its way around the bird-watching community and by Monday morning around 100 twitchers were flocking to the site.

Among them was Britain’s top bird watcher Steve Gantlett, from Norfolk, who arrived in Shetland on Monday morning after driving overnight to Aberdeen to catch the first flight north.


Harrop said the recent calm weather with steady easterly winds has been “producing lots of good birds”.

“With any rare bird there is always an element of luck and pure chance,” he said, “however the Siberian accentor is one of those birds that is on your radar as a bird watcher.

“It is a bird that has long been predicted to turn up in Britain because there have been several records in Scandinavia.

“In life these things really mean nothing unless you are a birder.”

Siberian accentors usually breed in northern Siberia and spend the winter in southeast Asia.

“Shetland has notoriety in producing good birds,” he said. |When you got weather like this and got the magnitude of bird sightings that we have had this week, then who can complain. Shetland is a special place go bird watching.”