Autumn 2021

A windy autumn with unsettled weather

Autumn has turned into winter and I have returned to Mongolia after spending a little more than a year back home on the Faroe Islands due to covid-19. If you wish to continue reading about my birding adventures you can go to my blog birdingmongolia.wordpress.com

But how was the autumn birding on the Faroe Islands? This I will blog about this time. I have never been able to spend as much time in the field as I have done this autumn since my wife and kids had already returned to Mongolia. But apart from myself I don’t think anyone went out birding on a regular basis in order to look for rarities and I have no knowledge of any visiting birders, who came this autumn to look for migrants either. So I pretty much had to cover the entire country myself – which obviously is impossible though some others did some sporadic birding of course.

While Iceland had stunning numbers of American warblers in early autumn, I only managed to find 3 Pectoral Sandpipers and a single Semipalmated Sandpiper from America. Some good American birds must have visited the islands, but I just didn’t manage to find any of them. If only there were more birders around.

Pectoral Sandpiper

The dominant wind direction during autumn was between northwest and southwest, with very few days of easterlies. This meant that the numbers of eastern vagrants were low – and the weather windy and unsettled. If we take the Yellow-browed Warblers as an example I see around 100-150 during autumn on average. This autumn I only found 15. So it is 10% or so from my normal numbers. In general numbers were just low and only once in late October we had a notable arrival of eastern birds – mostly Redwings and Blackbirds, but also Siberian Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, a few Barred Warblers and a Citrine Wagtail. There was also a small arrival of three Little Egrets and a single Cattle Egret (third for the Faroes) in late October.

Yellow-browed Warbler

A juvenile Western Osprey arrived in October at Saksun, where is was really efficient in catching trout. It was still present in early November. Interesting to see if it attempt to winter of the Faroes.

Western Osprey

Other rarities or scarcities during the autumn include the third Greenish Warbler for the Faroes, second Wilson’s Storm-petrel, Little Grebe, Blyth’s Reed Warbler, a few Rosy Starlings, three Ring-necked Ducks, Little Bunting and Little Stint, Common Coot and a few Hawfinches.

Wilsin´s Storm-petrel – second for the Faroes

Greenish Warbler – third record for the Faroes

My personal highlight was obviously the male Snowy Owl in mid October, which seems to return regularly to the area around Halgafelstindur.

All in all this autumn was much below average when it comes to numbers of birds present. Normally there come periods of continual easterly winds at least a few times each autumn, which fill the gardens with birds. This autumn did not have any such arrival except for the one incident in late October, which still was too little too late.

Male Snowy Owl

But still I met my personal target of finding two new national firsts a year (when I am home), as I found both Eastern Bonelli’s Warbler and Eurasian Stone-curlew in late spring. And adding Snowy Owl and Wilson’s Storm-petrel to the equation the result is pretty sweet.

Silas Olofson

One comment on “Autumn 2021

  1. Marc GIROUD says:

    Hello, With a good experience of european Osprey, yours is probably a more interesting bird than you expect… With your picture I can see several traits commonly associated with the carolinensis american subspecies (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/256475693_Ageing_sexing_and_subspecific_identification_of_Osprey_and_two_WP_records_of_American_Osprey) such as : dark orangey iris, clean whitish scaling on blackish upperwing coverts, un-streaked chin, black eye ring… lacking the underwing pattern, but maybe you have several other picture of him ? Best regards. Marc

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