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Hebrides News


The extremely rare appearance of an American Redstart has enticed an influx of birders to Barra.


This is only the second the occasion the species has appeared in Scotland - and the sixth time in Britain - so twitchers are desperately keen to catch a glimpse of its grey and yellow plumage.


Over 120 bird spotters flocked in from all corners of Britain after local enthusiastic Bruce Taylor discovered the tiny bird foraging amongst sycamore trees behind Eoligarry church in the north end of the island.


Many took the longer route by road and the Cal Mac ferry MV Isle of Lewis to Castlebay.

Rare American Redstart on Barra thrills twitchers

10 Sept 2017

Others hired planes to fly to Barra’s unique beach airport, waiting for the tide to recede before landing on the sand.


The American redstart only breeds in the United States and southern Canada and over winters in warmer climates.


It is though the bird may have been blown off course because of the unusual jet stream caused by hurricanes in the Caribbean and eastern USA.

Mr Taylor explained he was out looking for vagrant birds when he “stumbled across this little cracker


“The last recorded in Britain was about thirty years ago so there’s a whole generation of birders who have never had the chance to seen it.


“This is a big, big rarity and is a stunning looking bird.”


Mr Taylor said the “jury is still out” whether it’s a female bird or a youngster as the plumage for both similar.

The influx of bird spotters  has created a weekend tourism boom for the island. About five chartered planes were parked on the beach today with a lot of “excited and very, very happy birders” which has created good business for taxi drivers, B&Bs as well as the airfield and airport café.