Sunday, 23 September 2012

23rd September

No time for any ‘east meets west’ headlines, or ‘Magn(olia)ificent’ puns, this is an update about the absolutely stunning MAGNOLIA WARBLER found this evening by Jason on Lerness. I had a call from Jason at just after half five saying ‘get everyone now, there’s an American warbler on Lerness – it’s yellow with a grey head, green mantle and white panels in the tail. Come quickly, bring the books!’. The diesel I was meant to be filling the people carrier with was forgotten and we quickly set about rounding up Obs guests from across the island and letting folk know about the bird.

It wasn’t long before 30 or so people were gathered on the clifftop at Copper Geo watching the most amazing bird I’ve seen in a long time. With the sun setting over the Atlantic behind us, the bird was virtually glowing as it fed on the cliffs. Views were not very close, but Copper Geo is a fairly narrow geo, so through a scope it was pretty stunning!
The Magnolia Warbler. Stunning, just totally stunning.
Showing the distinctive tail pattern.
As the moon rose and the sun started setting, the Magnolia Warbler found itself a little nook near the clifftop where it fluffed up into a bright lemon ball and went to roost, where we left it at 7.25pm with the calls of a Yellow-browed Warbler ringing around the geo.
If anyone is planning on visiting Fair Isle, visit for travel details, although there are likely to be limited places on the scheduled planes and ferry services. Charter planes must seek permission from the airstrip manager, which is usually Dave Wheeler (01595 760224) but will be Fiona Mitchell (01595 760314) on Monday morning until 11.15am whilst Dave is away. The forecast for tomorrow is for increasing easterly winds, which may cause some problems for the planes. I’m afraid the Obs accommodation is virtually fully booked (we might be able to squeeze one more person in).
The Magnolia Warbler is in Copper Geo (marked with the red 'M' on the map), which is on Lerness. If anyone is visiting Fair Isle, the quickest way to get to it is to walk straight up from the airstrip staying left of the mast and buildings. We'll either have somebody at the geo or will mark where it was visible from if it is still present tomorrow. It's a 15-25 minute walk from the airstrip, with a couple of uphill sections and some boggy ground.
An impressive supporting cast today consisted of Lanceolated Warbler (trapped at Da Water), Blyth’s Reed Warbler (still at Schoolton), Arctic Warbler (the lingering bird), probably 20+ Yellow-browed Warblers (we’ve not done Log yet, so I haven’t got all the totals) and various other lingering scarcities including Bluethroat, 2 Common Rosefinch and a few Barred Warblers.
I can't believe this impressive bird is in the 'other news' today, but what a great find this Lanceolated Warbler was in Da Water.
Well, best go and do Log. We’ll be up early (first light, which is about half six) to look for the Magnolia Warbler in the morning and will get news out as soon as possible either way.


  1. What an amazing, beautiful warbler !! Congratulations to everybody who gets to see it, especially those who have travelled to stay on the island for a birding paid off !!!

    Richard Hopwood.

  2. Thanks Richard. It certainly did pay off, only those on the island when the bird was found got to see it. We were looking forward to a big twitch the next day, but nevermind - I'm sure we'll get something else here soon!


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