Update

 

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Well, when I start working it’s dark and when I return home from work it is dark. So not a lot of time for birding. But Rodmund keeps the spirit high and has found a Ring-necked Duck (2. Winter male), a Tundra Bean Goose and relocated the long-staying Steller’s Eider in Sumba and a male American Wigeon on Sandoy.

On the 23rd November I found a Yellow Wagtail – that is late! And it was very grey like a Citrine Wagtail. Yoav made a post about the bird on birding frontiers: http://birdingfrontiers.com/2016/11/27/frosty-wagtail-on-faroes/

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

I relocated the bird two days ago and today Rodmund also saw it. We have now obtained permission to catch the bird and hopefully get some DNA so it can be nailed beyond doubt.

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

During September Kat Snell caught 5 Lesser Whitethroats on Nólsoy. They were all dna-tested and all of them belonged to the eastern blythi. It kind of confirms my suspicion that we get a lot of these eastern birds here during autumn.

I’ve also made a small movie about some of the rare birds I’ve found on the Faroes during the autumn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfTR5c1Fnb0

Silas

 

 

Food birding

 

Kirkja on Fugloy

Kirkja on Fugloy

One of the things that really shock foreign birders is the fact, that I have permission to enter most good gardens on the Faroes. Frankly people just find it interesting if I ask if I can look for birds in their gardens. That would not be the case in most of Europe.

Svínoy and the ferry

Svínoy and the ferry

Yesterday I checked Fugloy – the easternmost island of the Faroes. And Hattavík is the easternmost village. It really is way out in nothing. There is not a single tree in the village, so it doesn’t keep most birds for long. But it is stunningly beautiful.

Hattarvík

Hattarvík

 

Hattarvík and fulmar

Hattarvík and fulmar

The other village on the island is Kirkja. It has a few gardens and can potentially offer great birding. But yesterday it was kinda wet and cold. So when the first villager invited me to eat and have a cup of coffee I accepted the invitation. It was nice sitting there in the 100 year old house chatting to Jógvan Páll. But after an hour I went birding.

Coffe at Jógvan Pálls place

Coffe at Jógvan Pálls place

But suddenly a window opened and the mayor of the village invited me to eat soup in her house. I accepted the invitation and when I entered the living room I found several other visitors including the pastor from Viðareiði. And the soup was not just soup. After the soup came locally produced meet, local potatoes and other good stuff – all perfectly cooked. And then a ton of chocolate and coffee afterwards.

After dinner at the Majors place

After dinner at the Mayors place

Well, I didn’t find any Pine Buntings or Siberian Accentors on Fugloy, but I really had a good time.

Coffee and cake at Eskilds place with the Great Tits in the garden

Coffee and cake at Eskilds place with the Great Tits in the garden

On the 1. November two Great Tits were seen in Klaksvík by Eskild Hansen in his garden. I went there today and as soon as I came Eskild invited me to drink coffee and eat cake while waiting for the birds to return to the feeder. So we had a lovely chat, loads of coffee and good cake. And then suddenly the Great Tits were there! It is the 6th record for the Faroes.

great-tit-a4

great-tit-a2

Great Tits

Great Tits

Silas Olofson

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

humes-leaf-warbler-a2a

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

Today I went to Svínoy. My target was of course Siberian Accentor as it has been for the last month almost. Upon arrival I checked the first gardens. To my delight there were 5 Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaffs and lots of Redwings around. The Lesser Whitethroat looked interesting almost resempling a Desert Warbler, as the head was almost brown.

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

 

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

 

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Further checks revealed more of the same. But at the harbor I found a pale Yellow-browed Warbler-type. It’s 31. October. It’s pale. It could be a Hume’s. Well, in the bright autumn sun it looked kinda saturated in colours, but still pale. So I followed the bird as it moved towards the gardens. And then duiiipppp. A dry single-toned call. Not the explosion and sharpness that you get from a Yellow-browed – and now I have passed 100 this year. Wow. Was it actually the first Hume’s Leaf Warbler for the Faroes? A few claims have been made, but non accepted.

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

Well, it was really grey, but the colour impression was very much dependant of the light conditions. I soon lost it in the dense gardens before relocating it in a ditch. But then it disappeared. Ohhh… too many ditches on Svínoy.

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

After several hours of searching I relocated the bird in the village and tried play-backed. Bingo! Beautiful reply with a classic Hume’s call. And I even managed to get the call on video. So it might actually get accepted.

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

The bird proved to be very hard to approach as it was just flying around everywhere between the northern and southernmost gardens and even frequenting ditches. Svínoy is just too big for a single birder.

But well, if accepted it will be the first Hume’s Leaf Warbler for the Faroes.

Silas

Snow

Hvannasund

Hvannasund – view from the kitchen

Well, I closed the season on the last blog post, but there are still plenty of birds around in spite of the first snowfall in the mountains. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs are the most common migrants along with Redwings. But geese and Whooper Swans are also moving through.

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

 

Waxwing

Waxwing

A few days ago I found a Grey Wagtail in Tórshavn and today I found another one in Árnafirði. It is a rare but annual migrant here.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Yesterday I flushed a dunnock-type bird that gave very brief views at the same place. I got quite excited, but it turned out to be a Dunnock. So far I’ve found four Dunnocks, but still not Siberian Accentors. But when the winds turn easterly again in early November everything can happen!

Dunnock

Dunnock

There is also a significant arrival of Redpolls – most of which are pale and interesting.

Redpoll

Redpoll

 

And two days ago the Western Bonelli’s Warbler was still present, but today it was gone.

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Western Bonelli’s Warbler

Silas

End of an Era

Rene, Philip, Ragnar and I celebrating a Goldfinch!

Rene, Philip, Ragnar and I celebrating a Goldfinch!

Windy, almost stormy, rain, lack of light. Winter is coming. The last few days have been almost non-birdable. It is almost time to go into birding hibernation until march. Strong westerly winds have hit the islands and the few classic late eastern vagrants seem like a far-fetched dream currently.

Just when the Sibirean Accentors had made their way to Orkney, Shetland and Western Norway the winds changed. ‘Cause birds really do need some good tail winds to get out here – Shetland is only half the distance from Norway. But who knows. Maybe a bird or two have mad landfall just to show up in my garden later, when I decide to take a peek out the window?

But there are still birds around. Two days ago the Western Bonelli’s Warbler was still present and Ragnar managed to find a Goldfinch in Árnafirði a few days ago while another Goldfinch was in Viðareiði two days ago.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

There are also still plenty of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps – and Redpolls and Waxwings are around in really good numbers.

Redpoll in Klaksvík

Redpoll in Klaksvík

 

Redpoll in Klaksvík - could go as a Cous' Arctic in Denmark but not on the Faroes due to the Icelandic nightmare-complex of Redpolls

Redpoll in Klaksvík – could probably pass as a Coues’s Arctic in Denmark but not on the Faroes due to the Icelandic nightmare-complex of Redpolls

 

Mealy Redpoll in Hvalvík

Mealy Redpoll in Hvalvík

Yesterday a Little Egret was present Millum Fjarða. Always quite exotic here!

little-egret-d1

 

But I seriously doubt than we will have any more large arrivals of eastern migrants this autumn. And of course lack of birds means lack of effort and lack of effort means less birds and so on.

Waxwing

Waxwing

Winter is here. I’ve even caught my self watching gulls and ducks during the last few days. Winter is here. Two days ago Rodmund even went to Sandoy, where he found a male American Wigeon (probably returning bird) and a likely Coues’s Arctic Redpoll. Sure it is winter.

But this is birding and this is the Faroes. Maybe there is still a Blyth’s Pipit, a Siberian Accentor, Brown Shrike or a Pine Bunting out there to be found? Something has to be out there, but if it will be found is another question. Most likely not. But well, gulls and ducks are interesting too. And frankly this autumn has probably been the best autumn ever on the Faroes when it comes to numbers and the amount of rarities found! At least more than enough great birds to keep the mood going during the dark months ahead.

Silas

Danish visit


Mistle Thrush - curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Mistle Thrush – curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Three Danish lads, Ragnar, Philip and Rene, have been visiting the Faroes for the last week. They’ve been around most of the country and they’ve also found some quite good birds. The absolute rarities include a stunning Mistle Thrush and a mouth-watering Goldfinch. They also successfully twitched the Western Bonelli’s Warbler yesterday and they heard the bird call as Western.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

But the best bird they have found was a Siberian Stonechat at Hvalba a few days ago. It is the third record for the Faroes and a very nice and pale individual – which has a certain Stejneger’s feel to it.

Siberian Stonechat - curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Siberian Stonechat – curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

 

Siberian Stonechat - curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Siberian Stonechat – curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Yesterday I went birding for a while with the young lads and then they stayed at our home during the night. This morning we to the ferry to Svínoy (Silas and Ragnar) and Fugloy (Rene and Philip).

I was quite excited, ‘cause I really haven’t used much time on Fugloy. Obviously is has to be good, but there are just very few gardens, trees and shrubbery on the island. Well, it is perfect for Locustellas, Pipits and Buntings… but I do prefer Svínoy. But is it the right choice? It is like letting the Out Skerries unwatched.

But today Philip and Rene checked the island. 20+ Blackcaps is impressive, Song Thrush and House Martin. Quite good. And then: Little Bunting! The 5th for the Faroes and 3rd this autumn. Good job.

Little Bunting

Little Bunting

Ragnar and I checked Svínoy. About 15 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs including a tristis, 1 Brambling, 1 Chiffchaff and a few Robins weren’t too bad. But right upon arrival I heard a Richard’s Pipit call and I told Ragnar about it right away. After an hour or so Ragnar got decent views of a Richard’s Pipit on the center of the island. Nice! The 4th Richard’s Pipit for the Faroes!

We walked a lot to see if we could relocate the bird, but it was gone. 4 Long-tailed Ducks, a Grey Seal, two Fieldfares and a bunch of Redwings were the most exciting things.

But with both Richard’s and Little Bunting we were all kinda happy.

Silas

Nailed!

robin-b2

The Robin was still present in Kunoy


This morning I headed to Kunoy to see if I could nail the Bonelli’s Warbler. To do that there were two options. DNA or Call. Obviously DNA would not happen as I don’t have permission to mist-net birds. So I had to hear the bird.

I parked the car at the church and after 2 minutes I had relocated the bird. It really isn’t that hard when it is in a tree with hardly any leaves left on it. After a while it flew to the cemetery and I decided to do some video while playing Eastern and Western Bonelli’s Warbler. The result was interesting. The bird did not react at all while playing Eastern, but came within 3 meters distance when playing Western. I will link to a video later!

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Western Bonelli’s Warbler

But still the bird didn’t call. So I waited and waited. And all of a sudden… du-iiiippp. YES! Loud, long, deep, upturning and clear call. Surely a Western Bonelli’s Warbler! In total I have followed the bird for about 5 hours, and it only called on three occasions. But only one call and the time. So I didn’t manage to record it. But it is nailed! The first Western Bonelli’s Warbler for the Faroes!

Sheep were the only twitchers present and the Western Bonelli's Warbler

Sheep were the only twitchers present at the Western Bonelli’s Warbler

I wanted to raise money for homeless cats of Svínoy by asking all the twitchers to donate 10 Danish kroner. But only the local sheep seemed interested – so another national first goes by untwitched. Sorry for the non-existing homeless cats on Svínoy. I guess that it only happens on the Faroes (in Europe) that a national first is found without anyone trying to see it.

Today Fair Isle and Utsira got their Siberian Accentors. Many people have told me to find one. When Utsira can do it the Faroes can do it. We even rank higher on the fifa football list than Norway currently – so why not beat them with Siberian Accentors too? Maybe Atli, Geir and Frode should have become soccer players instead of birders! Oh, the days of Ole Gunnar and Ståle, lefser, gudbrandsdalsost, multebær and Tine Milk. Sometimes I miss Norway. But let’s see.

Today I also checked Àrnafirði, where I found a Dunnock and a Reed Bunting. When a Dunnock can turn up a Siberian Accentor could make the voyage too. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

In Klaksvík a flock of Redpolls was present including a nice pale individual.

Redpoll

Redpoll

Redpoll

Redpoll

Quite a few Waxwings are also present including 7 in my garden.

Waxwing

Waxwing

I have received quite a few comments on the wagtail, that Rodmund saw in Sørvágur. Due to the narrow wingbars and head pattern it could be an Eastern Yellow Wagtail type, but it seems that most everybody agrees that is in fact just another Citrine Wagtail.

wagtail-rak

Citrine Wagtail!? – Rodmund á Kelduni

Citrine Wagtail!? - photos by Rodmund á Kelduni

Citrine Wagtail!? – photos by Rodmund á Kelduni

Silas