OK, the others are making reviews, so I’m making one too.This is not a full review of what has been seen on the Faroes in 2011, but rather what I’ve experienced and seen.
For me the year started in Tanzania, where I stayed till mid february. I saw some 400 bird species and had a really good time there. It is hard to highlight any specific bird, but the 13th Oustalet’s Sunbird for the country was nice – didn’t even know the existence of the species before I saw it (that doesn’t happen often).
A brief stay back home on the Faroes produced a few Kumliens Gulls and during this period I also did my longest succesful twitch in 2011 – I drove about 10 km to connect with the second ever Great Crested Grebe for the Faroes.
In march me and my family went to Turkey. Birding there is simply amazing (and there are some really nice local birders too). WP-ticks included a self found lesser flamingo, finche’s wheatear, radde’s accentor, lammergeier, caspian snowcock, kruper’s nuthatch, collared and semi-collared flycatcher, white-headed duck and many more.
But in retrospect the two most extraordinary experiences where:
1) The visit to Aladaglar mountains, where you combine superb birding and superb landscapes.
2) The visit to a place in the middle of nowhere, where several males Iranias (white-throated robins) where chasing each other while lammergeiers were soaring the blue skies. Really a quality moment that was!
In mid june we returned to the Faroes. I had missed a long-staying Nightheron, but I had just seen them on a weekly basis in Turkey, so I’d survive. The first bomb dropped when Rockmund found an immature male American White-winged Scoter at Vestmanna on the 1st of july. I was over-confident that the bird would stay put for a few days, so I first gave it a shot on the 3rd july, but it was nowhere to be found. I searched for hours and hours and eventually I gave up and went home to check the local patch – where I found a splendid male Subalpine Warbler. It has been accepted as the first ssp. cantillans for the Faroes. A very nice bird, but still not really a substitute for a AWS.
July is normally that time of year when it’s all about breeding birds. This year july was pretty special with sightings of a rose-coloured starling at Mykines and a Marsh Warbler in the same garden as the Subalpine Warbler.
Autumn started on the 3rd august when I found my first Barred Warbler.There was a lot going on in august, but even though good numbers of Wood Warblers, Common Rosefinches and Barred Warblers were seen only a few rarities showed up – a 1.cy Citrine Wagtail on the 25th and an Osprey on the 26th.
September started with a Two-barred Crossbill on the 4th. I had been looking for one for a month ’cause they were all over Scandinavia – and thankfully one dropped by. September saw a lot of easterly winds and like august there were birds all over. On the 10th and 11th a “not-yet-assessed” Sykes’s Warbler was seen in Rituvík – but is was skulky like a needle in a haystack.
The first Yellow-browed Warbler was found on the 14th and I managed to find 49 YBW’s in september alone. It is by far my best year and the best year for the Faroes too. Now imagine what a few more birders would come up with. On the 17th two Little Stints where on Suðuroy and on the 19th I found a “not-yet-assessed” Northern Harrier (ssp. hudsonius).
On the 21th there was a large arrival of warblers. I found 18 Yellow-browed on Vágar. It was bad weather that day, so you can only imagine the real number of YBWs. For a few seconds I saw another wing-bared warbler and managed to get two shots, before the wind blew it to Iceland. After posting the pics on the blog it was nailed as the first ever Greenish Warbler for the Faroes (but not-yet-assessed). On that day I also saw a dark-tailed very small gropper… crap… where are the other birders???
The very next day I found a (not-yet-assessed) Blyth’s Reed Warbler at Árnafirði. It was somewhat more cooperative and a much expected new to the Faroes.
In october I was joined by Mads Bunch and Søren Sørensen – and the wind turned from east to west. The places that used to be loaded with birds were now not as loaded at all. The entire month had wrong winds and it took a lot of time out in the field to get some quality birds. Apart from a Goldfinch-invasion the first quality jewel was a Olive-backed Pipit found by Mads on the 7th. The second was a White-rumped Sandpiper on the 11th. On the 13th the putative Northern Harrier ssp. hudsonius was relocated, but we didn’t get any good pics. On the 15th and 16th a Pechora Pipit gave stunning views down to 10 feet. That was one of the year’s highlights.
On the 16th Mads went home and on the 17th Søren and I saw the first national record of Semipalmated Sandpiper. After that things started to cool down and it started snowing. Luckily the end of october saw some easterly winds and on the 28th october we found the first Richard’s Pipit for the Faroes along with a Great Grey Shrike.
During the autumn I’ve seen a total of 9 Wood Warblers, 54 Yellow-browed Warblers, 25 Barred Warblers and 20 Common Rosefinches.
November and december were rather uneventful. A mistle thrush and a massive invasion of about 50 Greater White-fronted Geese (ssp. albifrons) and 9 Bean Geese were the highlight. In the end of december some white-winged gulls turned up – at least two being Kumlien’s Gulls.
So all in all I saw 26 national rarities (not counting the invasion of geese and Goldfinches). Three of the nation rarities were not self-found 🙂 I saw 160 species on the Faroes in 2011. It is somewhat less than my best year, but that is the price you pay for being out of country for almost half a year.
The bottom line is that 2011 was a good year for me with five self-found (but not-yet-assesed) national first’s. But it was also a year without any real wp-megas. I still need to find that one bird that will cause the hardcore wp-twitchers to stop by. Better be prepared!