An epic journey to Suðuroy

Day 1

From friday to monday I went to Suðuroy. If everything was about birding I would move to Suðuroy. I think it is the best island for birding over all. There are plantations, lakes, beaches, places for sea-watching – it pretty much has it all. And unlike Svínoy for instance it receives birds directly from both east and west.

Some good yankies have visited the island: Tenneessee warbler, buff-bellied pipit, sandhill crane, baird’s sandpiper, ring-necked duck, american rouhg-legged buzzard and others. Furhter more two red-flanked bluetails, two olive-backed pipits, two citrine wagtails, arctic warbler and several other eastern birds have been seen. And for instance the one red-flanked bluetail was seen on the same day as the buff-bellied pipit – so everything can happen down here.

The down site is the size of the island. It takes almost an hour to drive from the northermost part to the southermost part. And there every village has a lot of gardens, so it is very time consuming to check it all and you’re likely to miss some birds.

Well, on friday I drove to the ferry Smyril that sails to Suðuroy from Tórshavn.  On the way there I checked Kirkjubø, where there was a barred warbler and Velbastaður, where there was wood warbler.

It is a good oppertunity to do some sea-watching when sailing with Smyril. So I stood for the entire two hours on the deck watching fulmars. Normally you see a few sooty shearwaters, several manx shearwaters and some european storm-petrels. And once a fea’s/zino’s petrel has been seen from the boat. But today there were no quality birds to see. A few great skuas, shags and fulmars – that was it.

When I came to Suðuroy I was faced with strong winds and birding was difficult – and to shorten the story. There fair numbers of common migrants but no rarities.

Day 2

Well, I found both the 7. and 8. little stint for the Faroes today, so I should be happy. But it was acturally more fun to find 2 yellow-browed warblers at Trongisvágur. A barred warbler was in Sumba. Other birds included 11 curlews and a grey heron at Fámjin and two grey herons at Vágur. All in all a rather quiet day.

Day 3

Where did the day go? It was a crazy day. The quantity of birds that came in were amazing. First birds in the morning was a yellow-browed and a barred warbler at Sumba – a 1-3 blackcaps for every garden. I checked Akraberg, Sumba, Vágur, Porkeri, Trongisvágur, Hvalba and Famjin. At leas 60 blackcaps (about 1/3 were males), 15 garden warblers, 10 lesser whitethroats, 15 willow warblers, 4 barred warblers, 4 chiffchaffs, 10+ merlins, 4 common rosefinches, whinchat, wood warbler, 4 great northern divers and at leasT 10 yellow-browed warblers – AND IT IS NOT EVEN THE 20TH SEPTEMBER. Famjin was amazing this afternoon. There were yellow-browed all over the village. At least 7 were seen. And imagine 5 bushes, 3 yellow-browed warblers and two barred warblers – that was Famjin today. But why on earth is the west coast of Suðuroy so much better than the east coast? Are they birds returning after flying past the Faroes and finding out there is only sea to the west?

The scenario at Famjin was simply amazing. There were warblers everywhere. 7 Yellow-browed, 2 barred, blackcaps, willows, chiffchaffs, lesser whitethroats, common rosefinch… This day only lacks two things: A true rarity and some more hours  – ’cause it really felt like birding paradise…


Lesser whitethroat and yellow-browed warbler fighting for attention

Day 4

I got up early well aware that I only had untill 11 o’clock to birds, ’cause that was the time when the ferry was leaving for Tórshavn. I checked Sumba in the early morning and it was loaded with birds. Every scrub or garden had its own blackcap, lesser whitethroat or garden warbler. And four yellow-browed warblers were found. But I was in a hurry, so I probably didn’t check the gardens as good as I should. The result was that I didn’t find any rarities. And honestly there are too many gardens and too much dense cover, so if there are hippos, thrushes or locustellas in there, you’ll probably never see them –  at least it requires much more manpower and time.

So I did the wise ting. I went birding were there is only enough cover to attrach the birds but too little to cover them totally. I went to Famjin… And sometimes luck just hits you! It took about 25 minutes to drive there, so I had 1 hour and 40 minutes before the ferry left (including 20 mins drive to the ferry). As I got out of the car I spotted a harrier over the ocean where it came in from west. It was VERY orange underneath and I almost instinctly started thanking the icelenders for sending their pallid harrier down here. I saw it fly in and as soon as it found cover in a ditch it went down. It was about 300 meters away from me, so I went closer. Sadly I didn’t see it before it took of from the ditch, so I lost a valuable oppertunity to get really good shots. But I soon managed to find the camera and get some documentary photos and a better look at it. It didn’t have a juv. pallid harrier boa around the neck, and it wasn’t slim enough for eighter montagu’s or pallid – and the 5th finger was all too obvious. But it was so orange underneath, that my thought were circling around the possibility of an Northern Harrier from across the pond.

The harrier crossed the bay and flew up the mountains but came down after a while. I managed to get some more pics, but I didn’t get the same possibilities again as it was chased all the time by crows and ravens. And I had to leave to catch the ferry.

Too bad: To find the best bird after 4 days on Suðuroy just 1 hour and 20 minutes before departure.

Too good: If I had come just minutes later the bird would probably just be roosting in the ditch for a long time, and I would have seen it…


Total numbers of warblers from friday to monday:

Blackcap 60+, lesser whitethroat 10, garden warbler 15, barred warbler 4, yellow-browed warbler 14, willow warbler 15, chiffchaff 10, wood warbler 1. Other birds of note were 5 common rosefinches, 4 great northern divers, 2 little stints and the harrier…



One comment on “An epic journey to Suðuroy

  1. Chatterbirds says:

    Exciting stuff! Too bad there weren’t more people checking for rarities at those sites.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s