It is almost Christmas. Days are awfully short. On a bright day you might have three hours of birding although the length of the day is a bit more than five hours from sunrise to sunset.
In spite of the short days there are still birds around. November saw a great arrival of Iceland Gulls numbering probably more than a thousand birds around the country with more than 100 birds present in the harbor of Fuglafjørður.
But southerly winds and temperatures up to 8 C have meant that numbers have again decreased somewhat. But it will be interesting to see if the next storm from northern directions will mean another influx. In Fuglafjørður a ssp. borealis Common Eider was also present.
Early December highlights included two Common Coots were present at Toftavatn, a Pintail at Tórshavn and four Taiga Bean Geese at Eiði.
On the 6th December Turið Vestergaard photographed a Brant in Trongisvágur, which was easily identified as the first Black Brant for the Faroes, maybe of the Grey-bellied Brant-variation.
I took the ferry to Suðuroy and managed to relocate the bird of the 8th. This is the first record of Black Brant for the Faroes.
Today I went birding with Jórun Pòlsdóttir. We are working on a new field guide to the birds of the Faroes including a complete list of all records of rare birds on the Faroes, nice pictures, identification clues and much more. Writing this book is actually my primary work currently. But after hours of writing I do like to get out around noon for a little birding. Today we drove to Eiði, some 20 minutes drive from were we work.
Soon I noticed a Little Grebe-type thing in the distance. Jórun got on to the bird right away. As we walked closer she asked how I could be sure it was a Little Grebe from such a distance only using bins. I replied that it was either that or the very rare Pied-billed Grebe, but that would be highly unlikely.
As we got closer I got better views. And that bill did look heavy. My heart started pumping as the jizz also seemed to resemble Pied-billed Grebe. I took some hand-held iso 2000, 1/160S with my 1200mm eqvivalent lens and was able to study the bird in detail. I sent some back-of-camera-shots to Rasmus Strack and Yann Kolbeinsson, who both confirmed the id as a Pied-billed Grebe.
I was just stunned. Yesterday we secured a good amount of support for our Faroese field-guide, today we found a national first… what a couple of days. Christmas surely came early this year!
Congrats to the small, but great grebe!