Twitchers descend on the tiny British island to see rare birds

The rare yellow-browed bird has only been seen four times in the UK (Image: SWNS)

Hundreds of twitchers descended on a small island to see a rare American bird believed to have been blown off course during migration.

Bird lovers descended on Bryher, one of the smallest Isles of Scilly, from as far away as the Shetlands to see the rare feathered spectacle.

It is only the fourth time the Blackburnian singer has ever been seen in the UK and the first time it has been photographed in such detail.

Some birders even waded in the water, while some stood for hours or overnight to see the bird, which is believed to have gotten lost during its migration from North to South America.

People traveled all over the country to see the songbird (Image: SWNS)
It is believed to have flown off course during migration (Image: SWNS)
It has only been seen on three other occasions in the UK (Image: SWNS)

Richard Stonier, 47, a chartered accountant who photographs birds in his spare time, spent eight hours over two days photographing the winged wanderer.

He said: ‘It was actually quite challenging because it has quite unique feeding properties. The singers we get on this side of the world fly around from one branch to another.

“This one walked more and jumped around across twigs, almost like a mouse.”

The Blackburnian Warbler breeds in the eastern United States and Canada and winters in South America.

Previous sightings in the UK have been at St Kilda in 2009, Fair Isle in 1998 and Skomer in 1961.

The boats were packed with twitchers wanting to catch a glimpse of the bird (Image: SWNS)
The male was spotted climbing a tree at Bryher on the Isles of Scilly (Image: SWNS)
Bird lovers couldn’t believe what they were seeing (Image: SWNS)

Richard said: ‘It is extremely rare. This is only the fourth time it has ever been seen in the UK, the previous three times have all been unavailable.

‘It got caught in one of those storms and was blown across the Atlantic. Most people don’t make it. It’s not a waterfowl, it wouldn’t have had any food.

‘If it tries to fly back, it’s extremely unlikely it will make it, but it may not know where it is, it may try to migrate south.

‘No one really knows what happens to these American birds, once they are here they appear and then disappear again.’

He said another bird watcher, John Judge, spotted the warbler and spread the word.

Richard said: ‘Most birders base themselves at St Mary’s to see what they can find, but John Judge always bases himself at Bryher.

‘This is a fantastic reward for many years of hard work and effort. He found it, identified it and put the word out on the birding information services, and now everyone’s on board.

‘People arrived from the Shetland Islands when I was there yesterday.’

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