Birders from Shetland and beyond have been flocking to Northmavine this week to catch sight of a rare visitor from overseas.
A pine grosbeak, only the 12th to ever be seen in Britain, is currently spending time among trees at Collafirth. These colourful birds are usually to be found in the taiga forests of North America and Siberia.
This individual was found on the 29th January by Bert Ratter, who passed a photograph on to local birder Paul Sclater. Paul identified the bird and the news quickly spread.
Since the mid 1970s, there have been only four British records of pine grosbeaks, and only one of these has been outside Shetland. The two previous local sightings were in Lerwick in March/April, 1992, and at Maywick in November, 2000.
It has emerged, however, that the bird currently in Collafirth has most likely spent the whole winter in Shetland. It was first seen on 2nd November by Alistair Williamson in Urafirth, but word did not get out until this week.
Given the rarity of this species, there has been a great deal of interest from birders all over the UK, with many travelling north over the weekend. As well as those taking the cheaper, NorthLink option, some have chosen to charter flights to the islands, paying up to £500 each for a ticket.
More photos and information about the bird can be found on Nature in Shetland’s Facebook page: www.facebook.com/natureinshetland.