Blackburnian Warbler by David Cooper
Autumn 2023 has seen Britain and Ireland treated to the biggest arrival of American landbirds on record. Delighting Shetland birders for a few hours on 26th was a first-winter male Blackburnian Warbler – only the fifth British record. Blackburnian is often considered one of the most beautiful of all North American warblers and it is easy to see why, boasting a wonderful yellow-orange colouration coupled with a delicate facial pattern and upperpart details.
The somewhat sparse landscapes of Britain's most northerly archipelago lend themselves to amazingly intimate views and images to match. Typically, skulking vagrants can often be enjoyed at close range right out in the open. That fact is true here – with the close viewpoint giving the background an aesthetically pleasing out-of-focus blur (known in photographer circles as Bokeh). The diffuse olives and browns of the background correlate well with the diffuse browns of the warbler's plumage, while the diffuse grass stems complement the tawny 'tramlines' along the back of the bird. The largely muted tones of the image cause the bird's showpiece – namely a brilliantly vivid yellow-orange throat, supercilium and ear covert surround – to pop, immediately drawing the eye and awe of the viewer. David has caught the bird in a 'classic' New World warbler pose, equally adept at dangling off the fence as it would be twigs in a wooded glade.
Congratulations to Shetland resident David on a stunning capture of a bonafide British mega.
Other notable images