May 15th was a gloriously sunny day in Shetland. Just prior to heading out guiding for the day I was putting the recycling out and heard the distinctive song of a Firecrest emanating from a small bush next to our rubbish bins! This was something of a surprise, given how scarce Firecrests are in Shetland, but there it was - a male Firecrest singing away in all his stripey-headed glory. He remained faithful to our garden for the rest of the day, and was seen by a number of other birders and photographers - he even had the decency to still be pottering around in our garden when Bethanne, who I was guiding for the day, and I returned for a look later in the evening.
There have been around 40 previous records of Firecrest in Shetland (including Fair Isle), and this appears to be only the eighth found in the spring - autumn occurrences are much more frequent. Not only are Firecrests rare in a local context, they are surely one of the most gorgeous birds regularly found in Britain. Having a stunning male visit our garden for the day was most certainly an unexpected treat.