The year of our Lord 2020 has finally passed. A year with corona, restrictions and loads of birds. I spent the first half of the year in Mongolia – primarily in Khovd in the west but also visited Ulaanbataar and the southwestern corner of Bulgan.
Mongolia is an awesome place for birding with a great opportunity to familiarize yourself with many of the eastern migrants, that just might turn up in autumn in Europe. I am not going to mention all the great birds that I saw during the first seven months of the year in Mongolia, but just some highlights.
During the winter I encountered the rare Kobdo Pheasant endemic to western Mongolia (along the Khovd river) – see image above.
In late May I found the first documented record of Long-tailed Shrike for Mongolia.
In June I found the third Ashy Minivet for Mongolia in Bulgan, SW Mongolia. This might be the westernmost record of the species ever.
A February holiday in Thailand provided me with a few hundred lifers including Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Normann’s Greenshank and Blue Pitta.
It would lead to far to mention all the cool species from Mongolian and Thailand, but you can scroll though my birdingmongolia blog here: https://birdingmongolia.wordpress.com/
On the 11th of August we arrived on the Faroes on vacation. But 2020 had already produced some really good birds already. A Tufted Puffin was sadly shot during legal alcid hunting in January in Vestmannasund, a male Collared Flycatcher was seen in a garden in Porkeri on the 25th of April and on the 27th May Jón Aldará found the first Broad-billed Sandpiper for the Faroes.
The autumn proved very good on the Faroes. We had plenty of easterly winds and overall there were migrants to be found the mid August and pretty much throughout the year.
On August 22nd a Hoopoe was found in Miðvágur. I relocated it the following day. It proved to be one of two or more likely three Hoopoes seen during the autumn.
Rarities like Citrine Wagtail, Pectoral Sandpiper and Arctic Warbler were seen during September. The month was full of birds but lacked megas.
But as October arrived so did the rarities. Paddyfield Warbler on the 2nd, three Ring-necked Ducks on the 6th, and an amazing double of two firsts for the Faroes within 20 minutes and only 100 meters apart were an Isabelline Shrike and a Little Ringed Plover.
October also offered an additional Arctic Warbler, Surf Scoter and Steller´s Eider.
As the days got darker in November I found a likely Eastern Yellow Wagtail in Sumba. If accepted it will the first record for the Faroes, but we are waiting for samples to be tested for DNA.
A Blue-winged Teal was photographed in Tórshavn on the 14th, but not seen since, but on the 19th I found a flock of five Ring-necked Ducks on Toftavatn. Quite an arrival of yanks!
On December 6th Turið Vestergaard photogeaphed a Black Brant at Trongisvágur. It is the first record of this subspecies on the Faroes.
During December six Taiga Bean Geese were also seen.
On December 16th I found the first Pied-billed Grebe for the Faroes at Eiði and it is still present today.
In late December two Velvet Scoters were present in Haraldsund and plenty of Iceland Gulls are around the islands. Among them there are several nice, dark Kumlien´s Gulls. Numbers are not exceptional like earlier in autumn, but there seems to be quite some movement as new birds seem to arrive as soon as we get some northerlies. Maybe the next months will be really good for white-wingers.