Twitchers rush to Scottish island to catch glimpse of super rare visitor

Dozens of birdwatchers arrived on a Scottish island by boat and plane to catch sight of a bird that has been recorded in Europe for the first time.

A yellow-bellied flycatcher like the one spotted on Tiree. PIC: Creative Commons/Dominic Sherony.
A yellow-bellied flycatcher like the one spotted on Tiree. PIC: Creative Commons/Dominic Sherony.

The yellow-bellied flycatcher has made a stop in Tiree in the Inner Hebrides after, it is believed, being blown off course on its winter journey from Canada to South America.

Twitchers hastily made their journeys to see the little bird as it rested in a garden at Balephuil on the south of the island.

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Peter Stronach, a birdwatcher from Aviemore, posted on social media of the “sensational views” he got of the bird.

He said: “I can’t believe I have seen this species in the Western Palearctic, let alone Scotland.”

Birdwatchers gathered for three days to see the “elusive” bird with more than £700 raised for Tiree Community Trust in the process.

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Clare Jones, who first spotted the bird in her garden last week, said birdwatchers had been queuing while socially distancing at her garden gate for a glimpse of the bird.

She told a newspaper: “Some came on a flight from Oban, another group came from Glasgow and there was also a charter flight. Then on Thursday another group came by boat from Kilchoan.”

Ms Jones said she was not aware at first of how rare the bird was.

She added: “It’s the size of a small robin and I didn’t think there was anything exceptional about it.”

There is now no further access to the garden with most of the birdwatchers off the island, it is understood.

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A neighbour of Ms Jones, who is the RSPB officer for Tiree, recognised the bird straight away.

John Bowler then welcomed a number of visitors onto the island to see the bird.

He told the newspaper: “The majority of the visitors have come from England and there are one or two from Wales and some from Scotland.

“It has been difficult for them to get across here so they have used any means they can. There have been charter boats and two charter planes.”

Visitors to the island have been praised for observing social distance although it is thought the pandemic reduced the number of birdwatchers who would normally have made the journey.

The yellow-bellied flycatcher usually finds a perch low or in the middle of a tree from where it flies out at night to catch insects.

Sometimes berries and seeds are also taken.

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It has a green upper body and yellow throat, as well as a white or yellow eye ring. Its lower beak is a shade of orangey pink.

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