Reality sometimes surpasses imagination. Today was one of those days. It all started yesterday. Rodmund and I had noted the arrival of american birds during the last few days in Northern Europe – and with a promising looking weather forecast we decided to go birding on Sandoy today.
When talking about logistics yesterday night Rodmund calmly mentioned a few minutes into the conversation: By the way I found an adult male Ring-necked Duck today a few kilometers from my home. Cool! There are 8 records for the Faroes. Rodmund has found four and I’ve found three. So I didn’t need it as such, but who can resist and adult male? Only one of the previous birds was an adult male.
So I decided to go for it and pick Rodmund up on the way. I woke up at 5 am and headed for Vágar. On the way there I stopped at Klaksvík, where I found an Iceland Gull.
Later I made a brief stop at Skálabotn. There I located a flock of Teals and soon I found a male Green-winged Teal among the birds. The third Faroese record and the second yank in two days. This looked promising. I used a few minutes getting some photos and then hit the road again.
Finally after 1,5 hours drive I picked up Rodmund and headed to Vatnsoyrar, where the Ring-necked Duck had been seen. We couldn’t relocate it right away, but Rodmund suggested that it might be under a bridge. So he went out to check while I stayed inside the car and scanned the river and lake.
Suddenly a shore bird came into view and I got my eyes on it. What??? Rodmund, you needa look at this one I said. But he was outside the car and probably didn’t hear me. But he noticed how I started using the camera and then he got all excited too.
Just 20 meters in front of us a Lesser Yellowlegs was foraging. A national first! We have talked and talked about the species. When would the first record be made? Who would find it? And now it was there – right in front of us.
We used about 10 minutes getting photos before we left the bird as it walked along the shore of the river. At one point it did fly a bit, so we got flight shots too.
We hadn’t found the Ring-necked Duck, so I suggest that we checked an old swimming pool and bingo – there it was 🙂
Now we had to hurry up to catch the ferry to Sandoy. On the way there we saw a Shelduck at Kirkjubø.
We arrived at Sandoy and started birding. There were good numbers of Barnacle Geese, several duck species including Pintail, Wigeon, Teal and Tufted Duck but nothing rare.
5 Great Northern Divers, Black-tailed Godwit, Blackcap, Merlin and Sand Martin turned out to be the best birds. So we left the island a little disappointed.
We still had several hours of light, so we continued birding. First we checked Havnardalur, but didn’t find anything. Then we checked the plantation in Tórshavn. We looked at the ducks that were getting fed with crumbs by kids and moms and all of a sudden Rodmund shouted: Look at that one in the back. It’s an American Black Duck.
And so it was. Interestingly I found the first Faroese record at the exact same spot 13 years ago. Since then only one other bird has been recorded, so todays bird was the third for the Faroes.
The bill colour and plumage didn’t look as bright and striking as on the previous birds, so I first thought that it was probably a female. But judging by its behaviour it was probably as male as it was constantly fighting Mallard males over a Mallard female.
The bird seemed quite stressed, so when ever someone threw bread it swam off. So I guess it hasn’t been around for long.
After getting some pictures we continued our quest, but only added Black Scouter and Slavonian Grebe to the list. We even picked up Janus and forced him to try to twitch the Lesser Yellowlegs (it is simply too embarrassing to find a National First without anyone even trying to twitch it). But we couldn’t relocate it, so Janus dipped. Better luck next time 🙂
One can only imagine what the result would be if more than two guys were birding on the Faroes today. It is kinda hard to cover 1400 km2. But seeing one yank makes a day good. Seeing four is unbelievable.