Monday, September 24, 2012

Magnolia Warbler a Mega North American Stunning Rare Bird! on Fair Isle!

Magnolia Warbler Dendroica Magnolia
2nd record for Britain!
1st for Fair Isle & Shetland
I must say AWESOME!

Steve Arlow

Thank you to visiting birdwatcher & photographer Steve Arlow
for the use of his photos as you can see from my photo below... 
My record shot is rubbish in comparison.   

Late in the day I got a call from Jason from his cellphone standing on the edge of a cliff in the North West of Fair Isle. "Tommy I have an American Warbler! I don't know what it is? I've got photos and will be able to ID it later but can you look in your American bird books?" (Jason, knowing I'm American and I always have my Sibley & Crossley bird guides about.) My books are in the other room I start running with the phone, Jason describes the bird, I start to go through the Warbler sections. Too many yellow grey American Warblers! I can think strait or focus because I want to see the bird too! what ever it is? I'll bring my books with me! I'm on my way! My son Henry & I grab the books and hop in the car and play rally drivers to the airport then half way up Ward Hill. In the car, my mind reeling, I was thinking from the brief description what could it be? Bay-breasted Warbler? Female American Redstart? The suspense was killing me! Out of the car with still a rough hike up up over pitted heathered moar land hills and then down short slick grass slopes ending at sudden cliff edges as fast as I could, trying not to have a heart attack or slip and kill myself. I get there... Heart pounding, out of breath, it's a Magnolia Warbler! Someone arrived with a North American Bird Guide just before me. But wow what a bird! The setting sun lit the cliff face perfectly with warm light as we all watch from across Copper Geo. Jason let's Henry & I look though his scope. Instant Legend!

Photos of the twitch...

The finder of the Magnolia Warbler Asst. Warden Jason Moss of the Fair Isle Bird Observatory spreads the news!

Nice one Jason!

Walking away as the Sun set in the West, I couldn't help think that the small bird's home was somewhere far beyond the horizon as is my family and the home of my birth. America, the promised land with stunning colourful warblers. With strong South Westerly wind whipped up by hurricanes most of September the Fair Isle Birders have all had little hope for anything else but such a bird as Magnolia Warbler. We did have to wait until the winds turned from West to East? For weeks now I personally have been publicly saying "I hoping for any North American bird besides a wader." A Black-Throated Blue Warbler was my dream, but Magnolia is dream come true! We did have a few "Yank Waders" I hate it when people use that phase Yank or American Wader, North American is so much better. Truth be known this bird is most likely from Canada and should be heading to Florida. I like the phrase New World Warbler... I hope Jason enjoys his little new world for years to come!

Steve Arlow
Blyth's Reed Warbler Acrocephalus dumetorum

After a unsuccessful 7am. start in my own Auld Haa garden to try and relocate the Booted Warbler seen the day before. The phone rang a few times yesterday with news of rare birds...

Blyth's Reed Warbler at Schoolton,
Lanceolated Warbler caught & ringged at Da Water,
Arctic Warbler still at Pund,

But it was only the news of Magnolia Warbler that got me out of the house and running.


  1. Thanks for the fantastic photos of the beautifully named Magnolia Warbler. When I heard the news yesterday eve, I knew we wouldn't have to wait long before we would see a photo and info on your wonderful website.


  2. Well Tommy, you may be scathing about your shot of the bird, but your shots of the twitch are excellent! Well done!