Norðoy – cruise

Slavonian Grebe at Árnafirði

The Great Tit inspired me to check my local area. The islands Kalsoy, Kunoy, Borðoy, Viðoy, Svínoy and Fugloy are called Norðoyggjar – or the northern islands. That’s where I do most of my birding.

Yesterday I checked Viðoy and Borðoy. The best birds were a Chaffinch in Viðareiði, the first Sylvia-warbler for the year – a Blackcap – at Hvannasund and a Slavonian Grebe at Árnafirði.

Blackcap at Hvannasund

Today the sun was shining from a blue sky. So I decided to go to Svínoy, which is my favourite location on the Faroes. It is simply a magnet for rare birds. If that island was covered daily I can only imagine what would be seen. Since 2009 I’ve found Arctic, Subalpine, Melodious, Palla’s Grasshopper, Lesser Grey Shrike along with tons of Yellow-browed and Barred Warblers, Arctic and Lesser Redpoll and Common Rosefinches.

Brambling at Svínoy

On the way out to Svínoy I looked for Puffins and Guillemots. There were scattered flocks of both. All of a sudden a Brunnich’s Guillemot appeared just 25 m from the boat. It was in summer plumage as most of the Guillemots and the two key features – the white stripe on the bill and the pointed rather than rounded limit between black and white on chest – were seen well. It actually gives the feeling of a hybrid Razorbill x  Guillemot in my opinion. But well, as often when taken by surprise the camera was not at hand – and after 15 seconds we had passed the bird.

Brunnich’s Guillemot is not a rarity on the Faroes, but there is almost nobody looking out for them. Most of the birds recorded are birds that are shot during the winter months – as both Razorbills and Guillemots are regularly hunted for food.

Drake Gadwall at Svínoy

When I came out to Svínoy I found a male and a female Gadwall. I’ve never seen them there before and they are rather uncommon on the Faroes.

Brambling at Svínoy

I was really nice to be able to go birding in a T-shirt as the sun was shining from a clear sky. But there were not many migrants around. Two Bramblings, two Chiffchaffs, two Black-tailed Godwits, one Whimbrel, two white Hooded Crows, good numbers of Golden Plovers and two Long-tailed Ducks were the best birds.


But the day offered great opportunities to get some low-iso photos, so I exploited that opportunity.

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper

Purple Sandpiper



5 comments on “Norðoy – cruise

  1. Rodmund á Kelduni says:

    Hi Silas.

    Nice photos.

    I have to disagree when you say that Gadwal´s are rather uncommon at the Faroe Island, infackt they are a common migrant and it is just a question of time before the first breeding pair are located.

    Best wishes

  2. Anders Østerby says:

    How do you define an uncommon and a common migrant on your islands?

  3. birdingfaroes says:

    In the faroese list I’ve used these standards for non-breeding birds:

    Very rare: Less than 10 records
    Rare: Not annual
    Uncommon: 1-20 records pr year.
    Occures in low numbers: 21-200 pr year
    Fairly common: 201-2000 pr year
    Common: 2001-10.000
    Very common: 10.000-60.000

    Gadwall is in deed uncommon as there are between 1 and 20 records pr year.


  4. Rodmund á Kelduni says:

    Hi Silas.

    There are only a handfull of us that look at birds on a somewhat reglary basis and there have been no bird count on the Faroe Island fore more than thirty, Yes you read right, thirty somewhat years.

    Most birds wich not are included the rarety only list are not even registred.

    So how kan you use youre numbers to state what is common or uncommon ??


  5. birdingfaroes says:

    Well, you point out an obvious problem.

    There is very little solid counting and registration going on – and the actual number of many migrants is very likely to be much higher than the numbers actually seen.

    However the numbers Søren and I use are based on incoming reports during the last 30 years which do give some idea of the migration pattern for many birds – but more birders and more conducted counts would obviously be awesome!


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