Wednesday 30 October 2019

Magical Sprites

On Unst back in September, we saw up to 20 Yellow-browed Warblers each day. They are gorgeous, magical little sprites, always restless, hovering to pick aphids from dying Sycamore leaves, and hopping along wire fences looking for spiders.

Photo by Rich Baines taken at Norwick, Unst

Yellow-brows are a fab little migrant, seemingly having established a new migration route in the last decade or two (research is still ongoing), indeed, they can sometimes be the commonest warbler on the east coast and the Northern isles these days. However, they will always be a special bird, and I feel that if you get tired of seeing Yellow-brows, you are truly tired of life! I can recall my very first, back in 1986 at the tip of Spurn Point, East Yorkshire, buzzing about in a tree close to the Heligoland trap. Another fond memory is of one I found in Askham Bog in autumn 1996, the first record for the York area.

The one in the short video below was in the gully near our croft at Norwick, close to where the Tengmalm's Owl rocked up back in the spring. It was incredibly confiding, feeding in this stunted Sycamore within a metre or so of me. The video was with my handheld smartphone.

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