Most expected national firsts

 

Which species will be the next one to be X'ed?

Which species will be the next one to be X’ed?

So far “only” 327 species have been recorded on the Faroe Islands. Birdwatching has never been and is still not an activity that many take part in. People in general are very interested in birds, but looking for small brown warblers or shorebirds is not a popular hobby.

The only regular “birding effort” during the last many years has been the heligoland trap on Nólsoy, where species like Paddyfield Warbler, Green Warbler, Radde’s Warbler and Melodious Warbler have been caught.

Other than that most birding has been rather random with groups visiting every now and then – and tourists or locals finding weird things – like an Amur Falcon photographed with an Iphone on the stairs,  a Scops Owls hit by a car or a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater caught on a trawler or catch an Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatross caught during long-line fishery.

It is hard to say which record is the best Faroese record, but besides the above mentioned Sandhill Crane, Needled-tailed Swift, Lesser Kestrel, Common Nighthawk, Black-and-white Warbler, Tennessee Warbler and the american subspecies of Long-legged Buzzard are surely some of them.  But probably the Amur Falcon is the weirdest record so far.

But just how random the records are can clearly be seen by looking at the birds not recorded yet. My personal top eleven of most likely national firsts are (in random order):

Bewick’s Swan

American Golden Plover

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Black-throated Thrush

Short-toed Lark

Lanceolated Warbler

Dusky Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

Booted Warbler

Red-eyed Vireo

 

Now let’s see what the autumn brings.

Silas

 

 

 

Good stuff

 

Gásadalur

Gásadalur

Well, since the update 5 days ago a lot of birds have arrived. Now it really is party time with lots of birds around.

A few days ago I had a few hours on Svínoy, where there were good numbers of Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, a few Merlins and Lesser Whitethroats. But the best birds were a single Reed Warbler and a single Marsh Warbler.

Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler

 

Marsh Warbler

Marsh Warbler

Yesterday I checked Vágar in order to find some yanks. With Swainson’s Thrush in Iceland and two in Scotland there has to one around. But I didn’t find any. The best birds were a Wood Warbler and another Reed Warbler and 2 Yellow-browed Warblers – but with the number of warblers around something good has to be out there.

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

 

Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler

Rodmund checked Suðuroy yesterday. The island was a little disappointing as he “just” found two Yellow-browed, some Lesser Whitethroats, a Citrine Wagtail and a Sedge Warbler. Yes, standards are high here!

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

 

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler

But when he returned with the ferry something happened. As he was relaxing inside without bins or camera an albatross flew right next to the ship. He identified it as a Black-browed. It was seen at only 70-100 meters distance but not photographed. There are two previous records of Black-browed and one of Atlantic Yellow-nosed Albatros from the Faroes.

Redpoll

Redpoll

Silas

Another national first

 

Yann Kolbeinsson texted me a few days ago: Sæll Silas! Watch out for the low pressure coming between you and Iceland on Saturday, might bring you some yanks…

So Rodmund and I talked about going to Suðuroy. But the forecast looked horrible and we decided to stay home. But the front hit us yesterday night with wind and rain.

I had a few hours at in the morning at Viðareiði. After all I’ve found 4 pec sands, 2 buff-breasted and 1 semipal sand there – so I hoped for something good.

Soon after getting out of the car (10 minutes after leaving the house) a shorebird flew by at 200 meters distance. I got reasonable views and noticed a “common snipe jizz but slimmer” with long straight bill and greyish plumage. And didn’t that bird have some white on the back? It surely looked so. Furthermore the bird called several times as it flew northeast just to disappear. I managed a few very distant shots.

Long-billed Dowitcher - first view

Long-billed Dowitcher – first view

Then I checked the call of Long-billed Dowitcher on the internet and it was spot on. So I called Rodmund to inform him of a possible Long-billed Dowitcher, but he didn’t answer.

But crappy photos and not too good views would not be sufficient for a national first. And luckily the bird returned after 10 minutes and I obtained great views and photos and shared the news on the Faroese birding group on facebook.

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

 

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

 

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

A while later Rodmund returned my call. But unfortunately he couldn’t get a car to twitch the bird even though he wanted to.

I decided to leave the bird about spending 15 minutes with it and check the gardens. 2 Willow Warblers, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Blackcaps, 4 Barn Swallows and a House Martin had arrived – so I guess the islands are loaded with birds now.

After checking the gardens I went back and easily relocated the Long-billed Dowticher. As I sad down in the grass the bird came within 2 meters distance – wow! Just reminded me of a picture of an Upland Sandpiper in the UK walking just in front of a row of birders. If only european birds were like that!

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

 

Long-billed Dowitcher

Long-billed Dowitcher

No need to say that I was an amazing experience to get a national first like that! After watching the bird feed for 30 minutes it went to sleep, so I decided to leave it.

Long-billed Dowitcher - thanks for watching

Long-billed Dowitcher – thanks for watching

Silas Olofson

 

Birding with the gull expert

Peter and I at Eiði

Peter and I at Eiði

Yesterday I found the first Yellow-browed Warbler of the autumn. 15. September is the same arrival date as in 2011 – and if I am not wrong it is also the earliest date for the species to be recorded on the Faroes.

Today something even rarer happened. Belgian gull expert Peter Adriaens is on the Faroes and today we went birding together. First we checked Hvannasund where I managed to find a nice 4th winter Glaucous Gull – my first of the autumn. We also checked the remaining gulls for Glaucous-winged, Black-tailed, Slaty-backed, Yellow-legged, Caspian, Vega and Armenian Gull, but they all looked like the local species.

Red-backed Shrike

Red-backed Shrike

We then checked a few places on Eysturoy and Streymoy, where we found a few Willow Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats but the highlight was a 1 cy Red-backed Shrike at Eiði – first of the year.

All in all a splendid day in good company where we got to talk a lot about gulls…🙂

 

Silas

Semipalmated Plover

semipal

Semipalmated Plover – photo taken by the finder Rodmund á Kelduni

Yesterday Rodmund called me about a possible Semipalmated Plover, that he had found on Sandoy. As I was on Nólsoy to see the Paddyfield Warbler I wasn’t able to go and look for it.

The bird caught Rodmunds attention among 15-20 Common Ringed Plovers as it had a very weak supercilium. He managed to get four pictures of the bird before it flew off. It was only seen for a total of 2 minutes.

Yesterday I posted the picture on facebook and several people argued that it was in deed a Semipalmated Plover – a first for the Faroes if accepted.

Some of the features mentioned to support the identification are white above the gabe, jizz, pale fringed covers, rounded head, weak breast markings, stout bill etc.

But it is a very hard bird to identify on plumage alone, so we decided to look for the bird today in order to make sound recordings and hopefully see the feet.

As we arrived at Gróthúsvatn the same number of Common Ringed Plovers as yesterday were around and we started looking for the bird. But it turned out to be hard to get good views of all the birds as they kept flying around. A juvenile Merlin had decided to try to catch then. Below some of todays pictures can be seen.

common-ringed-plover-b2

common-ringed-plover-b1

common-ringed-plover-a9

common-ringed-plover-a8

common-ringed-plover-a7

On three occasions a call similar to Semiplamated Plover was heard as a flock of Common Ringed Plovers flew across the lake.

But the birds that we did get good views of did not look like yesterdays bird. We weren’t sure if the bird would appear different from yesterday as in was sunny today but clouded yesterday. So we decided to get pictures of as many birds as possible – but as far as we can see they were all Common Ringed Plovers.

We then checked a nearby beach at Søltuvík, where we found another 20 Common Ringed Plovers, but they took off before we could get proper views.

common-ringed-plover-a6

common-ringed-plover-a5

common-ringed-plover-a4

common-ringed-plover-a3

common-ringed-plover-a2

common-ringed-plover-a1

 

This event as turned out to be very useful for us, so hopefully we will be better prepared when the next Semipalmated Plover comes around.

Silas Olofson

Paddyfield Warbler

 

Northern Wheatear

Northern Wheatear

Yesterday a scottish girl named Kat caught a Paddyfield Warbler on Nólsoy. It is the second record for the Faroes. The last one was caught in 1988 on the same island.

Paddyfield Warbler is one of those bird that I expect to find one day – but as the opportunity arose I chose to give the Nólsoy bird a try. Well, sometimes twitching is cool. At least when 94% of your country list contains self-found species (oh, the blessing/curse of lacking birders).

Willow Warbler

Willow Warbler

I couldn’t reach the early ferry, so I had time to check a few places on Streymoy, where I found Williw Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat.

The I took the ferry to Nólsoy, where I found Kat just as she had closed her nets due to wind. She hadn’t seen the Paddyfield Warbler since yesterday, but Barred Warbler and Marsh Warbler were around.

So I started birding in the wind with not too much confidence. And it really was quite hard with loads of dense gardens and windy conditions. But I managed to find Marsh, Barred, Garden and Wood Warbler. Then the phone rang. It was Rodmund. He had just found a Citrine Wagtail in Tórshavn.

Paddyfield Warbler

Paddyfield Warbler

As we were talking on the phone I noticed a small bird in a dense garden. “Sorry, I needa to” I said and ended the conversation. After a few seconds I got good views of the bird. YES, it was an acro with a very broad supercilium, short primary projection and a metal ring on its leg. BINGO. PADDYFIELD WARBLER!

Paddyfield Warbler

Paddyfield Warbler

Getting photos turned out to be another story. There are hundreds of shrubberies and no herrings to cut them down with. So first I tried to flush the bird, which was fruitless. It just vanished. So I simply had to sit down and wait it out. 1 hour, 1½ hour, 2 hours. Yes, finally some glimses. 2½ hours. Yes, finally pictures that can be used to document the bird. 3 house… shoooottttt… I needa run to the ferry.

Paddyfield Warbler

Paddyfield Warbler

So I didn’t get any good pics, but well, I got an addition to my Faroese list!

Silas Olofson

Update from pre season

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

During the last few days weather has been bad, so birding has been limited. But two days ago I went out with two birders from Bahamas as the weather was nice and calm. Our main focus was warblers, but we tried to look for pretty much all species possible.

First we checked Viðareiði, where we located a Lapland Bunting and a Lesser Whitethroat – but the Pectoral Sandpiper was gone. It stayed put for two days in total. But there were good numbers of Common Snipes.

Dark variation of Common Snipe

Dark variation of Common Snipe

Then we checked Árnafirði and the reward there were a Willow and a Barred Warbler. Not bad. We then went to Eysturoy and Streymoy, where the highlights included two more Lesser Whitethroats, a few Willow Warbler and Chiffchaffs, Great Northern Diver and good numbers of shorebirds including Purple Sandpiper.

Lesser Whitethrot and Willow Warbler

Lesser Whitethrot and Willow Warbler

Today I got to spend a few hours on Svínoy. I had great expectations as we had an easterly storm yesterday, but calm and cold weather yesterday night probably made a few birds leave.

Great Skua

Great Skua

 

Golden Plovers

Golden Plovers

But birding wasn’t bad (at least it wasn’t like looking for european passerines in Iceland). The first few hours I managed to find 2 Barred Warblers, 4 Chiffchaffs, 1 Willow Warbler, 20 Golden Plovers and 20+ Great Skuas.

Barred Warbler

Barred Warbler

 

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

But in the afternoon new birds started to arrive and the headlight turned out to be a Sedge Warbler, that gave horrible views (except when I just found it and my camera was in the bag due to rain). Its skulkyness was a good reminder of just how difficult it can be in a few weeks, when hopefully there will be Lanceys, Pallas’ Groppers, Grey’s Groppers, Thick-billed Warblers, Siberian Rubies and Siberian Blues all over the islands… So it all feels a little bit pre season now.

Skulky Sedge Warbler

Skulky Sedge Warbler