Rare Cuckoo visits Isle of Iona

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Scotland’s birding community is in a bit of a flutter after a rare visitor arrived in Iona at the weekend.

On Sunday, June 23, visitors to Iona had brief but conclusive views of what could only be a Great Spotted Cuckoo, according to Argyll bird recorder, Jim Dickson.

When word reached Mr Dickson, who lives near Lochgilphead, he was able to confirm the bird as only the second ever in Scotland with the first being on Orkney 60 years ago back in August 1959.

Mr Dickson told the Oban Times: ‘Rudolf Hummel got in touch to say that while walking up from the beach at the north end of Iona an unusual bird was flying about and during a fleeting view he was able to ‘grab’ some photos.

‘This species is very distinctive being slightly larger than the Common Cuckoo that regularly appears in the UK during summer. Great Spotted Cuckoos are a scarce summer visitor to southern Europe, migrating from Africa, with several previous records to the south of England and Ireland. However is extremely rare this far north.

‘The bird has attracted a lot of attention in the birding world, particularly in Scotland where birders are keen to get across to Iona to see it. And so far, it has performed well during its stay.

‘It has been feeding on small caterpillars among the machair of this beautiful island which is rich in buttercups and daisies.’

Mr Dickson said that spring in Argyll has already been excellent for rare bird sightings, with three new species, the other two being a White -crowned Sparrow from North America and a Black-winged Stilt from southern Europe.