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The excitement of stray visitors

31 May 2008

Last week on St Kilda saw an amazing run of out-of-place birds visiting our wee island. In a spectacular few days we managed to spot an ortolan bunting, a bluethroat, a subalpine warbler, a tree pipit, a short-toed lark, a pomarine skua, a turtle dove, a jack snipe, a blue-headed wagtail, a snowy owl and even a quail, all wondering no doubt how on earth they managed to end up on this little dot in the ocean. Most of these birds are normally to be found in Continental Europe, and it was the persistent easterly winds that landed them on our shores.



01 bluethroat

 Bluethroat photo by Tony Bicknell


The bluethroat was a particularly handsome bird, which caused a bit of a twitch by Kilda standards, with many of the current Work Party and some of the Base staff coming to see it in its finery. Unfortunately, it also managed to taunt a visiting cruise ship by appearing on a wall above the jetty as they were landing, but disappearing by the time they made it up the slipway!



01 sub

 Subalpine warbler photo by Will Miles


The subalpine warbler was one of two seen this year on St Kilda, and one also appeared on the Uists in the same week, so quite a year for this unusual and fine looking bird.


Weeks such as these, where you walk round the village with your binoculars each evening never knowing quite what bird is going to pop up round the next corner, are part of the joy of St Kilda. We may not have the TV or newspapers to ring the changes, but in our own little way the island subtly changes from day to day if you have the patience to look hard enough.


Sarah, Seabird and Marine Ranger


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