After another busy summer here on Tiree, visitor numbers are slowly decreasing – at least until the Wave Classic event in October – so it was unusual to hear a plane from Oban arriving on Sunday carrying eight passengers.
The reason for their sudden arrival was also unusual, they had arrived following a tip off from local RSPB Officer, John Bowler, that he had sighted a rare visitor to our shores.
The bird in question is a Northern Parula, a rather colourful wood warbler 11cms ( approx 4½inches) long, from North America. It has mainly grey upperparts, a greenish back patch and two white wing bars. There hasn’t been one of these in Britain for 15 years and this will be the first official record for Scotland!
Northern Parulas breed in the woods and forests of eastern North America and normally winter in Central and South America. This one was presumably blown off course on migration and ended up on the wrong side of the Atlantic. Judging from its plumage details, it appears to be a female bird in its first winter i.e. born this summer.
John Says “ I found the bird in the little wood on the east side of Ben Hynish on Saturday. There are a few hawthorns and scattered willows there, which I check daily at this time of year for migrant birds. I normally expect to see a few Willow Warblers, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, so it was a great thrill to find this colourful and very rare bird instead. I took some photographs and then informed the birding grapevine. Normally migrants tend not to stay for long in these bushes but this one has stayed and allowed a steady stream of admirers or “twitchers” to come and see it
8 folk chartered a plane to come over from Oban on Sunday morning and today another chartered flight came up from Yorkshire. Some of the twitchers have come from as far afield as London and Sussex. The bird has showed well to all of them and they have all left Tiree very happy to date.”
The bird was still present on Monday the 27th September, but John expects it to have left by the time this issue is in the shops.