This morning Twitter saw a huge increase in the number of Islay related tweets. The reason for the excitement was a picture taken by Renfrewshire birders of an extremely rare bird for the UK, the Ascension Frigatebird. This bird is so rare that it has only been seen one time before in the UK, in 1953 on the Isle of Tiree to be precise. Wikipedia has an article about this rare bird: "The Ascension Frigatebird breeds on the rocky slopes of the tiny Boatswain Bird Island just off Ascension Island in the tropical Atlantic Ocean. It formerly bred on the larger island, but was exterminated by introduced cats, Brown Rats, and human persecution; in 2012 it was announced that a breeding pair had been found on Ascension Island following a project to exterminate feral cats. As with other frigatebirds, its movements outside the breeding season are little known because of identification problems within this difficult group, but it occurs off west Africa. A frigatebird found moribund in 1953 in Tiree, Scotland was identified at the time as Magnificent Frigatebird but was re-examined in 2002 and found to be an Ascension Frigatebird. These birds feed on fish and similar surface prey such as small turtles."
The picture taken by the Renfrewshire birders that caused all the excitement can be found on Ian Brooke's Blog. Ian writes: "The big twitch will now be on to find it as it took off around 9am, in which direction it flew I have not heard." From later Tweets I understand that the Ascension Frigatebird is a juvenile one and hasn't been sighted anymore. There is however a good chance that birders from the UK come to Islay in the next days to try and spot this rare bird so they can add it to their "life list".
the image is copyright of Drew Avery and shared under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.