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Bird-watchers' ecstasy as warbler goes off course at Scillies

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: October 09, 2012

Hundreds of twitchers flocked to Tresco to see the Sykes' Warbler

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This rare visitor sparked a "mega alert" among UK birder-watchers after losing his bearings en route through Asia and ending up on the Isles of Scilly.

Hundreds of twitchers flocked to the island of Tresco after the migrating Sykes' Warbler was spotted many thousands of miles from home.

The sighting, on Friday, was the first on the islands and only the tenth in Britain, taking the number of species identified on the far-flung archipelago to 438.

Will Wagstaff, honorary president of the Isles of Scilly Bird Group, said more than 300 enthusiasts descended on the tiny village of Old Grimsby.

"He should have been going south east towards Asia from beyond the Black Sea so he was a long way off course," he added.

"It is amazing how they can go so far when they are going over land."

The bird, whose breeding range stretches from northeast Arabia to Afghanistan, was once thought to be a subspecies of the Booted Warbler, but is now considered a full species in its own right.

It migrates in winter to the Indian subcontinent as far south as Sri Lanka and is usually found in open, bushy country.

The Scillies sighting was made by seasoned Norwich ornithologist Dick Filby, a regular visitor to the islands.

"He was absolutely tickled pink and rightly so," Mr Wagstaff added.

"He had been out all day in the rain and it was just reward."

The airport was said to be "heaving with twitchers" alerted via a paging system rife with reports of the rarely-seen creature, which resumed its long journey two days later.

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