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Teaser…

I returned from Turkey to the Faroe Islands a few days ago and I will spend the autumn here. Last year my wife and I bought an old house in the village of Hvannasund. It needs some attention before it can deserve to be called a proper home, so I am probable gonna swing a hammer more than my bins this autumn.

But during the last two days I was reminded why nothing beats birding on the Faroe Islands in autumn.

Rose-coloured Starling

Rose-coloured Starling

Yesterday I ordered some timber, which was dumped in front of our house. When I went to pick it up a juvenile Rose-coloured Starling was sitting on the timber. If flew off to my neighbours roof. Only my third ever on the Faroe Islands. And it was still flying around the house today.

Our house  is the white one- can you spot where where the Rose-coloured Starling was sitting?

Our house is the white one- can you spot where where the Rose-coloured Starling was sitting?

Rose-coloured Starling

Rose-coloured Starling

The last few days have offered southeasterly winds. And after yesterdays Rose-coloured Starling I took two hours off and went to Àrnafirði 5 minutes drive away. And again I was reminded just why birding of the Faroes is awesome.

Common Rosefinches

Common Rosefinches

First Willow Warbler, then Common Rosefinch, then Barred Warbler, then Garden Warbler, then Blackcap, then Wryneck, then another Wryneck, then another Common Rosefinch…

Wryneck

Wryneck

Wow, massive arrivals in a Faroese  perspective. And remember that this is one small village that is not a hot spot as such. I wonder what Svínoy contains…

Wryneck

Wryneck

The day’s total numbers were Rose-coloured Starling 1, Wryneck 2, Common Rosefinch 3, Willow Warbler 5, Barred Warbler 1, Garden Warbler 2, Blackcap 1 along with the common stuff.

Common Rosefinch

Common Rosefinch

Autumn has come. Now I will only settle for a national first :)

Silas

Glossy Ibises

 

Glossy Ibis at Tvøroyri - photo by Turið Vestergaard í Dali

Glossy Ibis at Tvøroyri – photo by Turið Vestergaard í Dali

Well, the year had barely started before the first big birding surprise unfolded on the Faroe Islands. Earlier today a few “black” Whimbrels were reported in Tvøroyri, Suðuroy. Turid Vestergaard í Dali went to look for them in order to get some photos and find out what it actually was. She managed to locale some of the birds – which turned out to be Glossy Ibises. Only the third record for the Faroes.

People have seen at least 5 birds together and they might have been around since christmas. They might have been seen in the village of Hvalba a bit further north on Suðuroy too.

Glossy Ibis at Tvøroyri - photo by Turið Vestergaard í Dali

Glossy Ibis at Tvøroyri – photo by Turið Vestergaard í Dali

So where do the birds come from? There have been severe westerly storms recently, so the birds might have a North American origin. Yann Kolbeinsson pointed out that North America has been hit by severe cold weather lately, which might have forced birds to migrate eastwards.

Mike Pennington photographed a single bird on Unst, Shetland, today. So there could be several Glossy Ibises out there.

I am in Turkey, so I’m not trying to twitch the birds (and that also explains the lack of activity on this blog). If you wish to follow my birding in Turkey go to www.birdingturkey.wordpress.com

Silas

Lots of birds – finally!

Blackcap invasion

Blackcap invasion

It has been quite an interesting week so far. Last Sunday I visited Nólsoy. There I found a stunning Arctic Redpoll. It was very tame and gave views down to 3 meters. Lately my camera has acted weird. The display doesn’t work and it doesn’t really behave as it should– so after shooting lots of photos I came home just to learn that the memory card was empty… Edward Rickson – the icelandic scotsman helped me afterwards by saying on facebook: What a thing to happen when faced with the world’s most beautiful passerine!” Thanks, Ed!

More Blackcaps...

More Blackcaps…

Very strong easterly winds have been dominating during the week. It has led to the biggest arrival of passerines so far this autumn. Two days ago I found 15 Blackcaps in a single garden and in the small village of Kunoy I found 29 Blackcaps, 3 Chiffchaffs (northern), 4 Bramblings and 5 Goldcrests. Quite impressing for that small village.

Tree Sparrow and Chaffinch

Tree Sparrow and Chaffinch

I’ve also visited Svínoy, but only for 40 minutes. There were more Bramblings, Chaffinches, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs – and 9 Tree Sparrows.

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl

At Viðareiði there were even more Blackcaps, Blackcaps and Blackcaps – and a Short-eared Owl flew over as it was chased by corvids.

Waxwing

Waxwing

Hvannasund has also contained some good birds during the last days including this years first Waxwing and a beautiful male Bullfinch – and many Blackcaps.

Common Crossbill

Common Crossbill

Today I checked Klaksvík. Hopes were high after Mike (the grand wizard of Unst) found a sycamore-dwelling Cape May Warbler just a few hundred kilometers south-east of the Faroes. Icelanders have also come up with two Parrot Crossbills and a Hoopoe. So I went to check the plantation Grøv in Klaksvík today. In nice sunshine I first heard a call similar to Parrot Crossbill, but could only find a Common Crossbill (and I only saw it for a few seconds). The plantation only has a few walking pads and finding birds is quite hard. But I couldn’t find any Parrots and Klaus Malling Olsen (world class birder) sent me a message this evening that Common Crossbills actually can utter similar calls every now and then.

Bullfinch

Bullfinch

Lesser Redpoll-type

Lesser Redpoll-type

Lesser Redpoll-type

Lesser Redpoll-type

Besides the Common Crossbill I found a female Bullfinch, Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff, a Mealy Redpoll and a Lesser Redpoll-type in the plantation.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

I also checked Àrnafirði briefly today and found a Grey Wagtail along with an interesting Lesser Whitethroat looking very eastern.

"Eastern" Lesser Whitethroat

“Eastern” Lesser Whitethroat

So to summon it all up: Lots of birds, several scarcities, a few rarities and no megas.

Common Snipe

Common Snipe

Silas Olofson

Birding the Faroese way

Eastern Chiffchaff

Eastern Chiffchaff

During the weekend I went birding with a group from the Faroese Ornithological Society. Birding conditions were far from ideal due to strong easterly winds. But we did try our best to get something out of the situation.

Rockmund (left), Janus (middle) and I (right) showing Faroese birding fashion.

Rockmund (left), Janus (middle) and I (right) showing Faroese birding fashion. 

(photo: William Simonsen)And we did manage to find some birds. A few of the more scarce species included 4 Great Northern Divers, Gadwall, 2 Wood Pigeons, 11 Blackcaps, 5 Northern Chiffchaffs, 4 Eastern Chiffchaffs, Greater Scaup, Iceland Gull, a late Lesser Black-backed Gull, some Long-tailed Ducks, Common Goldeneye, 2 Bramblings, Fieldfare and some Redwings.

Great Northern Diver

Great Northern Diver

But the best bird was a Hawfinch, that gave brief views in Fámjin. Always a charming bird to see.

Brambling and autumn colours

Brambling and autumn colours

Saturday night we went to see Aksal Poulsens bird collection in Sumba that includes the only Sandhill Crane ever recorded on the Faroes – a bird that flew into a wire and later died.

Sandhill Crane (photo: William Simonsen)

Sandhill Crane (photo: William Simonsen)

All in all in was a very good weekend with excellent compay even though the weather and the birding could have been better.

Silas Olofson

More duck talk

Common Pochards

Common Pochards

The cold weather has returned with temperatures below 5 C. There is new snow in the mountains and the weather has not been appealing the last few days.

I did check Eiði and Hvalvík the other day, and the result was a single Yellow-browed in Hvalvík and 4 Common Pochards at Eiði.

Today I checked Árnafirði briefly and both a Lesser Whitethroat and a Blackcap were seen in between the hail showers.

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

In the afternoon Rockmund called me. He had found what appeared to be a female American Wigeon at Norðskála. My reply was: “You’re a brave man, Rodmund”. We have had a few American Wigeon-types over the years, but they have never been accepted. So under normal circumstances I would not twitch such a bird (not even a male for that instance).

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

But since I am guiding a tour for the Faroese Ornithological Society during the weekend on Suðuroy I happened to drive past the place just an hour after Rockmunds call. So I did stop to check it out. And it took me only a few seconds to spot the bird Rockmund was referring to. The grey head, striking bill, dark eye patch and its size made it very easy distinguish from the Wigeons.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

I did spend some time with the bird and my conclusion is that it must be an eclipse male American Wigeon (maybe the same bird that has been around Eiði a few kilometers to the north in a previous year?). My arguments for the identification are:

-          Large white patch in front of the mirror on the inner wing.

-          From some angles it showed “ghostly markings” in the head resembling ad. male American Wigeon in full breeding plumage.

-          The bill was bright blue-grey.

-          Overall colours were quite saturated.

-          It was visibly bigger than all the Wigeons it was foraging with.

-          A small white patch was visible on the folded wing just above the flanks.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

American Wigeon to the right

American Wigeon to the right

If accepted it would be the 6th record for the Faroes and amazingly Rockmund has found 5 of those!

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

Silas Olofson

 

 

 

 

 

Tree Birds…

Common Whitethroat

Common Whitethroat

Today I went to Svínoy again. This october eventually has to deliver something more than Yellow-browed Warblers and Red-breasted Flycatchers. The wind has been better than horrible at least as the northerlies have turned into almost no wind for 3 days now. But it is just not quite good enough – the sibes do need a real push to get out here. And that push has not occurred yet. After all we are a bit further out than Shetland – which has had quite a decent autumn (but I guess that each garden is guarded by a dozen birders – except for Unst, where Mike P. does it all).

Mealy Redpoll

Mealy Redpoll

Well, today I went to Svínoy. And it was much like the entire month of October so far. Quite good numbers of birds but that mouth-watering Thick-billed Rufus-tailed Sibirean Blue Ruby Grey’s Grashopper Grey-necked  Chestnut Waterthrush just didn’t appear. In fact no really good birds have been recorded in october so far. Of course I haven’t spent so much time birding due to the new-born baby – but there could have been just one single mega…

Sibirean Chiffchaff

Siberian Chiffchaff

But well, I went to Svínoy. There I found 5 Blackcaps, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, Sibirean Chiffchaff, Common White-throat, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Mealy Redpoll and 11 Long-tailed Ducks.

Tree Pipit

Tree Pipit

But the best bird of the day was a Tree Pipit. They are regular, but not common up here. And mid october is quite late. This brings my autumn pipit list to a stunning 3 (Rock, Meadow and Tree)!

Tree Sparrows

9 Tree Sparrows

Another positive surprise is that the Tree Sparrows seem to breed like rabbits. In august I found two (ad. and juv.). In september I found 5. Today I found a flock of 9 including some newly fledged juveniles. Seems like they’re doing just fine on Svínoy.

Silas Olofson

Cold…

Snow

Snow

Well, nothing much to blog about right now. A minor storm from north brought the first snow of the autumn and it has been really cold since. During the last few days it has even been clear during the nights meaning that many birds have departed.

Garden Warbler

Garden Warbler

I even managed to have two days without any Yellow-browed Warblers before I finally found one at Eiði along with a Garden Warbler.

Ducks

Ducks

So I’ve even started to look at ducks – it produced 50+ Tufted, 1 Greater Scaup, 1 Gadwall, 20+ Wigeons and 17 Teal.

Late Golden Plover

Late Golden Plover

But the forecast does look quite promising for the coming week. Let’s see if something good turns up.

Silas Olofson