Yesterday I visited Svínoy. There were good numbers of common birds and a single yellow-browed and a single barred warbler was also present. But there were no rarities around, which was quite understandable as the last great arrival of birds happened on the 17th or 18th and there had been two clear nights after that – so most birds have moved on.
Today I had some time to go birding on Vágar. I hoped for an american as they seem to be all around the Faroes at the moment. But no… Instead there were yellow-browed everywhere. I have NEVER seen so many yellow-browed. First I checked Sandavágar, where 7 yellow-browed were present in the few gardens I checked. And yes – when you find 7 yellow-browed you should continue to check more gardens, but I didn’t. I had limited time, and I wanted to check the entire island (and find yankies). This often times is a good way to avoid finding the true rarities…
But after checking about 1/3 of the gardens (but the best ones) in Sandavágur I went to Miðvágur. There I soon found 3 more yellow-browed and two wood warblers. And then I blew it. There is a plantation with lots of trees and scrubbery. Close to that plantation (100 m) there are two gardens with tall trees. It was in one of these gardens that the wood warblers and yellow-browed were fouraging. As I checked for more birds I noticed a small bird in the grass. The grass has been cut recently, so it was very short. It jumped into the bottom of a bush, where I saw the bird for a few moments before it flew a few meters to the bottom of another scrub. First I noticed a long and distinct superlicium, so initially I though it was a wren. But then when it flew it revealed a broad round tail – a locustella! The bird was out of sight so I approached the scub where it landed – right next to the stone wall surrounding the garden. I probably did this fo fast, ’cause I only managed to flush the bird so it went out of the garden and into eighter the plantation or into another garden – where ever it whet I didn’t relocate it in spite of searching. Locustellas and plantations are NOT a good cocktail. But I managed to find my first redstart this year in the plantation- what a comfort.
After searching for two hours I decided to check Sørvágur hoping that the locu would return to the garden. I soon found another 4 yellow-browed warblers, some blackcaps and a chiffchaff and a willow warbler. Again I only checked the best gardens, so probably more yellow-browed around.
Then I checked Bøur, but there were only 3 chiffchaffs. And in Gásadalur there were one yellow-browed, 3 blackcaps and 4 willow warblers. Then I went back to Vatnsoyrar where there were two yellow-browed and a chiffchaff. One of the yellow-browed was really pale, it had a clean cheek and only one wing-bar… hm… Check the pics – IN RETROSPECT IT’S THE FIRST GREENISH WARBLER FOR THE FAROES!
Then I went back to Miðvágur to search for the locu, but only found two new yellow-browed at the other end of the village (the 3 others were still present in the garden).
So the yellow-browed total is this: Sandavágur 7, Miðvágur 5, Sørvágur 4, Vatnsoyrar 2, Gásadalur 1. This is by far the greatest number I’ve seen in one day – and in a normal autumn I only see about 20-30 of this eastern wonder. So 2011 is very strange. The bird on the 15th september at Grøv matches the earliest ever (15th september 2008), but normally they first start to appear in numbers from 25th september. And in some years none are seen in september at all. So 37 birds seen untill now in 2011 is simply amazing!