Bonaparte’s Gulls

Bonaparte’s Gull

One of the things that surprised David Lindo about the Faroe Islands was that fact that we could pretty much just walk into every garden without brimstone and fire raining down on us. Worst case scenario was probably an invitation to come in for tea (which means less time for birding). Well, the concept of private property is quite different on the Faroes.

Today I experienced the same kind of attitude at Fuglafjøður. I wanted to get better looks and pictures of the Bonaparte’s Gull. But as it normally staid off shore around the salmon farms I needed to get on a boat. So I asked the people at the salmon farm if I could take a ride with them to the rings. But they weren’t going just yet. But hey, we have a speed boat you can use the guy in charge told me (he went to primary school with my wife’s sister). A guy working there wanted to join me so we headed out to the rings.

Sailing around the salmon farming rings

It took us 15 minutes to locate a Bonaparte’s Gull among 50 Black-headed Gulls as it flew right over the boat. What a stunning bird!

Then it flew off but later I relocated it on the rocky shore. We drifted a bit and then it was flying again. But wasn’t it sitting in the other flock just a moment ago? We headed black to the previous flock, where it was sitting again. Hm… surely a fast and mobile bird. Then a little further down the shore it was flying again. It seemed like I picked up the Bonaparte’s Gull were ever I was watching. Extreme luck?

Bonaparte’s Gull

After an hour watching the bird we headed back. A huge thanks to the guys at Bakkafrost in Fuglafirði for being so helpful with the boat and everything.

A large flock of Black-headed Gulls including the Bonaparte’s Gull had landed a bit further inland. So I drove to Kambsdalur and walked down the ridge to watch the flock. As I approached one bird took flight and flew just over my head even diving towards me while calling – and yes, it was a Bonaparte’s Gull! Then it flew back and settled with the flock again.

Bonaparte’s Gull trying to chase me off

So I approached from a different angle and once again a Bonaparte’s Gull flew straight towards me calling and diving only 5 meters away. A flock of about 15 Black-headed Gulls took off and much to my surprise TWO Bonaparte’s Gulls were flying together. I even managed to get photos of them together – but subtle plumage differences were also noticed.

Bonaparte’s Gulls – both birds visible


Bonaparte’s Gulls – the other bird in focus

One bird had small black markings around the alula and also pale tips on the greater coverts making me thing it is a 2cy bird (2. winter) whereas the other bird was more clean-looking and thus aged to a 3cy+.

Bonaparte’s Gull

Quite amazing that the second record for the Faroes just a week ago was joined by another bird today – though both birds could have been present all along. Maybe the Icelandic breeders wintering on the Faroes?



One comment on “Bonaparte’s Gulls

  1. Helsinki, Finland says:

    Thak you for interesting notes about the bonaparte’s Gull and also showing the friendlyness of the friendly people on Føroyar.


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 )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s