2016 has been an amazing year when it comes to rare birds on the Faroes. An influx of American birds in spring and tons of eastern birds in autumn truly made this year very exciting. This review doesn’t mention all national rarities that have been submitted, but focuses on the rarest ones.
The year started well when Janus and I went to twitch a Hooded Merganser in Vágur. It had first been photographed in November by an islander and later rediscovered and properly identified by Ragnar Smith in late December. This is the first Faroese record.
Only 3 days later I found an Oriental Turtle Dove in Tórshavn. It turned out to be the same bird that had been present in Shetland in December and constitutes the second Faroese record.
The year will not be remembered for white gulls. Numbers were below average and only very few adult birds were seen.
On the 8th February I found a white morph Gyr Falcon in Tórshavn and the next day it was seen and photographed at Nes, Hvalba. It is probably the first record of the arctic white morph on the Faroes.
On the 12th February the wintering drake American Wigeon was seen again on Sandsvatn. It was present during winter and it was seen again in December.
The long-staying Steller’s Eider in Sumba was seen all year except in summer.
On the 16th of March Rodmund found a Green-winged Teal on Sandoy and it turned out to be a true American spring that was on its way. In total 4 Green-winged Teals, 3 Ring-necked Ducks (and another one in autumn), 1 American Black Duck and 2 American Wigeons were seen during spring, which is unprecedented. And of course Rodmund found all of the ducks except two.
On the 7th May I found a Greater Yellowlegs (first thought to be a Lesser) when birding with Rodmund. It was present at Vatnsoyrar just 200 meters away from two Ring-necked Ducks. It is the first Faroese record and comes before the first Lesser Yellowlegs, which is still to be found.
On the 15th May Jón Aldará had photographed something that looked like a White-billed Diver at Oyri and on the 17th I relocated the bird and confirmed the id. It is the 4th record for the Faroes.
When it comes to passerines the spring was very slow due to lack of easterlies. A single Linnet and a few Marsh Warblers were ok, and I also found a single male Eastern Subalpine Warbler on Svínoy on the 25th May.
Summer was slow as usual and autumn kicked in on the 9th September with a Pectoral Sandpiper at Viðareiði.
On the 12th the second Paddyfield Warbler for the Faroes was caugt on Nólsoy by Kat Snell and I managed to connect with the bird the following day. Kat caught 5 Lesser Whitethroats during September and DNA confirmed that all of them were Siberian Lesser Whitethroats (blythi).
On the 13th September Rodmund found a Semipalmated Plover on Sandoy. If accepted it will be the first Faroese record. The bird was only present for one day.
The first Yellow-browed Warblers were seen on the 15th September. This year proved to be a very good year for the species. I saw 103 myself so there have been many birds around. Numbers might exceed 1000 birds if coverage was better.
On the 18th September I found the first ever Long-billed Dowticher for the Faroes at Viðareiði. A much expected addition to the Faroese list.
October 1st proved to be a great day as I found Lanceolated Warbler, Blyth’s Reed Warbler and Pectoral Sandpiper on Suðuroy when guiding a group of Finnish birders. The Lancey was a national first and a lifer for me. The Steller’s Eider was also present on Suðuroy on the same day.
On October 9th, I found 5 Mute Swans at Vestmanna and the day after a Little Bunting was present on Svínoy with another bird there on the 14th and yet another one on Fugloy on the 22nd.
One Richard’s Pipit was at Viðareiði at 13th and another one was on Svínoy on the 22nd.
Rodmund found a total of 3 Citrine Wagtails during the autumn. Quite an achievement.
On the 18th Morgan Bosch found the first Dusky Warbler for the Faroes at Klaksvík and I managed to relocate the bird in the evening. Yet another much expected national addition.
On the 19th I found a Western Bonelli’s Warbler at Kunoy. It is also a national first and the id was confirmed by call. The bird stayed there till at least 30th October.
On the 19th visiting Danish birders found a Siberian Stonechat in Hvalba. It is the 3rd record for the Faroes.
On the 31st I found a Hume’s Leaf Warbler on Svínoy. It is the first national record if accepted.
The last surprise of the year was a juv. Yellow Wagtail, that I found on the 26th November. It stayed until at least mid-December. From DNA it will hopefully be determined if it is an Eastern or Western Yellow Wagtail.
All in all it has been an amazing year. The national firsts (if accepted) include Hooded Merganser, Greater Yellowlegs, Siberian Whitethroat ssp. blythi, Semipalmated Plover, Long-billed Dowitcher, Lanceolated Warbler, Dusky Warbler, Western Bonelli’s Warbler and Hume’s Leaf Warbler.
Personally the year also gave some great birding experiences abroad. A trip to Iceland in March gave American Coot, American White-winged Scoter and a male Hooded Merganser including all the local ducks.
During a single day of birding with Steve Wytema in the Nederlands I managed to connect with the wintering male Siberian Rubythroat.
3 weeks in Tanzania offered great birding and seeing the almost-extinct Beesley’s Lark was truly awesome.
And lastly in December I managed to see a Siberian Accentor in Hirtshals, Denmark.
All in all an amazing year of birding on the Faroes and abroad!