Birding Tenerife

Barbery Partridge

My wife and I decided to celebrate our 12½ years wedding anniversary on Tenerife in February. The island has a great combination of possibilities for relaxing, hiking, shopping, dining and birding. Because of the fact that there were not huge numbers of lifers for me out there I could probably find them without using too much time – and finding them could be combined with nice hikes or boat rides.

The birds I most wanted to see were: Barbary Partridge, Cory’s Shearwater, Macronesian Shearwater, Laurel Pigeon, Bolle’s Pigeon, Berthelot’s Pipit, Tenerife Robin, Canary Islands Chiffchaff, Tenerife Goldcrest, Tenerife Blue Tit, Southern Grey Shrike, Blue Chaffinch and Canary.

Barbary Partridge

We went hiking in Masca on the western side of the island. Right upon arrival in the village we flushed a Barbary Partridge and later we saw two more, but they were distant. In Masca there is a trail to the ocean, which takes about 2½ hours to walk. As we watched the tail two British tourists passed us. I asked them if they had seen any partridges down the path. Much to my surprise they had had amazing views of two “chickens” about 30 minutes down the track. They even suggested that the chickens were looking for food, so they gave us a fig-bar, so we could try to feed them. We decided to go down the path towards the ocean with the fig-bar. On the way down we saw Speckled Warbler, Blackcap and Raven.

Barbery Partridge

 

Barbery Partridge

When we came about 40 minutes down we reached a place that hikers obviously use for resting. There we stopped for a while and suddenly a Barbary Partridge was looking at us. It had obviously learned to eat left-overs from the hikers. We tried to feed the bird some fig-bar and it worked. Suddenly another bird showed up at gave amazing views. What a stunning bird.

Raven

Sea Watching

I didn’t do much sea watching from land as it would be boring for my wife. But I managed to persuade her to come on a whale safari off Los Cristianos. It was 20 Euros pr person for two hours. There weren’t many birds about but the species were awesome. 1 Barolo Shearwater, 3 Cory’s Shearwater, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Gannet, Sandwich Terns and Yellow-legged Gulls. Sadly the Barolo Shearwater was quite far away, so I only managed very crappy photos.

Cory’s Shearwater

 

Manx Shearwater

We also saw about 20 Short-finned Pilot Whales and 5 Bottlenose Dolphins.

Short-finned Pilot Whales

Laurel Pigeon and Bolle’s Pigeon

One morning I woke up early and headed towards Erjos. At the 16 km marker along the main road the track turns west. If you follow this track you will end up in a valley with undisturbed laurel forest. Well, kinda undisturbed. As I arrived workers had already started to work on improving the road in the forest with concrete and rocks. Quite soon you reach a view-point, where pigeons can be seen. But I continued past the view-point and the workers. After a kilometer or so I escaped their nosy work. Almost at the same time I stated flushing Bolle’s Pigeons along the track. So I started to walk very slowly and look for pigeons in the canopy. But my first well-watched Bolle’s Piegon was actually just foraging on the track itself. But I didn’t see it for long. As soon as I started to fumble with the camera it went off. They are pretty shy after all. The hard thing is to see the birds before the fly away. But soon I got lucky and spotted a Bolle’s Pigeon exposed in the canopy. It didn’t seem to mind me, so I got to watch it for as long as I wanted. But eventually I had to continue on the track, which brought me so close that the bird flew off. After a while I started meeting hikers coming from the opposite site and from that on I didn’t flush more pigeons. All in all I saw 13 Bolle’s Pigeons in Erjos during the morning walk. I also heard the wing beat for some pigeons that I didn’t see. All in all Erjos is really great – even if there were no birds the place itself is breath-taking.

Bolle’s Pigeon

 

Bolle’s Pigeon

In Erjos I also found good numbers of Canary Coldcrests – the only place I saw the birds.

I didn’t see any Laurel Pigeons in Erjos, so I tried La Grimonas – a small view-point along T5 about 30 min drive west of Puerto de la Cruz. From the time I stepped out of the car I saw Laurel Pigeons every 3-5 minutes. During half an hour I even had birds sitting fully exposed twice. One of them for 5 minutes at least.

Laurel Pigeon

 

Laurel Pigeon

Berthelot’s Pipit

This Meadow Pipitish Pipit is common around the island. I saw it mostly in more dry areas. At Punta de la Rasca it was very common for instance, where the local race of Southern Grey Shrike is also common. It is a fine pipit, that likes to walk rather than fly away. It isn’t shy at all and with a bit of patience it can be observed at a very close distance.

Berthelot’s Pipit

 

Southern Grey Shrike

Tenerife Robin

I must admit that when I first saw a Tenerife Robin at Erjos I was quite surprised by the obvious difference from the continental birds. It was almost like a Red-breasted Flycatcher male with its grey head very red chest. It was actually a very lovely bird, but somewhat more shy than the continental birds. I only saw it in Erjos during our trip.

Tenerife Robin

 

Tenerife Robin

Canary Islands Chiffchaff

The Canary Islands Chiffchaff is very common in all kinds of vegetation from city centers to rather dry areas at high altitude.

Canarian Chiffchaff

It is a funny little phyllo that made me think of Dusky Warbler due to the colouration, rather pale legs and prominent supercilium.

Canarian Chiffchaff

At Las Lajas I connected with Blue Chaffinch, Canaries, Tenerife Blue Tits, the local subspecies of Great Spotted Woodpecker. This picnic area is awesome for birding as the birds are used to people and tend to give supreme views. At Las Lajas Plain Swifts were also common.

Blue Chaffinch

 

Blue Chaffinch

 

Great Spotted Woodpecker

 

Plain Swift

 

Plain Swift

 

Tenerife Blue Tit

 

Tenerife Blue Tit

 

Canary

 

Chaffinch – local subspecies

 

Yellow-legged Gul (atlantic)

All the species observed on out trip can be seen below.

Barbary Partridge

Cory’s Shearwater

Macronesian Shearwater

Manx Shearwater

Gannett

Little Egret

Grey Heron

Osprey

Common Buzzard

Sparrowhawk

Kestrel

Barbery Falcon

Stone Curlew

Whimbrel

Black-headed Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

Sandwich Tern

Feral Dove

Laurel Pigeon

Bolle’s Pigeon

Collared Dove

Plain Swift

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Berthelot’s Pipit

Grey Wagtail

Tenerife Robin

Blackbird

Black so

Sardinian Warbler

Spectacled Warbler

Canary Islands Chiffchaff

Tenerife Goldcrest

Tenerife Blue Tit

Southern Grey Shrike

Raven

Spanish Sparrow

Chaffinch

Blue Chaffinch

Canary

Bewick’s Swan

Kumlien’s Gull

Yes, I’ve been lazy. The blog hasn’t been updated for a while. But it’s because there haven’t been so many rare birds around. Hundreds of Iceland Gulls, a few Kumlien’s Gulls, a Little Gull, two Grey Wagtails, some Water Rails and Redpolls were the best birds in March.

Water Rail

The slow winter changed to spring and thousands of Pink-footed Geese, a few Greenland White-fronted and Eastern White-froned Geese have turned up. Two days ago a storm hit us and we had up to 49 m/s wind speed. That brought in lots of Whooper Swans. And today Rodmund á Kelduni managed to pick out the first Bewick’s Swan for the Faroes in a flock of Whoopers on Sandoy.

Bewick’s Swan

 

Bewick’s Swan

Yet another bird on the most expected 10 national firsts since September 2016 was eliminated:

Bewick’s Swan

American Golden Plover

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Black-throated Thrush

Short-toed Lark

Lanceolated Warbler

Dusky Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

Booted Warbler

Red-eyed Vireo

So since I made the list in September last year four out of 10 have been found. I should consider making a new list.

Bewick’s Swan

I did twitch the Bewick’s Swan after finishing teaching biology C and B at the local Highschool. I even had some extra time on Sandoy and managed to connect with the long-staying American Wigeon, a Grey Heron, a Common Pochard and more.

American Wigeon

Silas

Iceland Gulls and more

Iceland Gull - 3. winter

Iceland Gull – 3. winter

Admittedly I’ve been a bit lazy when it comes to updating lately. But hey, it is February and the light is only slowly starting to return. And unlike last year I didn’t find an Oriental Turtle Dove in January.

Only major January news include one Great Tit still present in Klaksvík and an American Wigeon on Sandoy.

A few days ago Rodmund and I went to Suðuroy. We had a great time birding and came across a few good birds. The female Steller’s Eider was still present at Sumba as expected.

Steller's Eider

Steller’s Eider

Around the island we saw more than 80 Long-tailed Ducks, a few Great Northern Divers and two Red-throated Divers.

Long-tailed Ducks

Long-tailed Ducks

In Hvalba we saw a single Tundra Bean Goose, which is still considered a rarity.

Tundra Bean Goose

Tundra Bean Goose

But the highlight of the trip was the 7th Faroese record of Red-necked Grebe at Sandvík.

Red-necked Grebe

Red-necked Grebe

For foreign birders the most interesting news might be that we have seen some proper numbers of Iceland Gulls during the last few days. More than 100 individuals including a nice adult Kumlien’s Gull.

Adult Kumlien's Gull

Adult Kumlien’s Gull

The greatest congregation of birds was in Fuglafirði today, where 60+ Iceland Gulls were present.

Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull

Silas

2016 Review

Lanceolated Warbler

Lanceolated Warbler

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.

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser – first for the Faroes

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.

Oriental Turtle Dove

Oriental Turtle Dove – second for the Faroes

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.

Gyr Falcon in Hvalba

Gyr Falcon in Hvalba

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.

American Wigeon

American Wigeon

The long-staying Steller’s Eider in Sumba was seen all year except in summer.

Steller's Eider

Steller’s Eider

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.

American Black Duck

American Black Duck

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.

Greater Yellowlegs

Greater Yellowlegs

 

Ring-necked Duck

Ring-necked Duck

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.

White-billed Diver

White-billed Diver

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.

Eastern Subalpine Warbler

Eastern Subalpine Warbler

Summer was slow as usual and autumn kicked in on the 9th September with a Pectoral Sandpiper at Viðareiði.

Pectoral Sandpiper

Pectoral Sandpiper

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).

Paddyfield Warbler

Paddyfield Warbler

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.

semipal

Semipalmated Plover – photo by Rodmund á Kelduni

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.

Yellow-browed Warbler

Yellow-browed Warbler – one of maybe 1000?

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.

Long-billed Dowitcher - first for the Faroes

Long-billed Dowitcher – first for the Faroes

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.

Lanceolated Warbler

Lanceolated Warbler

 

Blyth's Reed Warbler

Blyth’s Reed Warbler

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.

Little Bunting - the left bird is from last week and the right one is todays bird. Note the eye ring and malar stripe

Little Bunting – the left bird is from last week and the right one is todays bird. Note thedifferent  eye ring and malar stripe

One Richard’s Pipit was at Viðareiði at 13th and another one was on Svínoy on the 22nd.

Richard's Pipit

Richard’s Pipit

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.

Dusky Warbler - first for the Faroes

Dusky Warbler – first for the Faroes

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.

Bonelli's Warbler

Bonelli’s Warbler – first for the Faroes

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.

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler – first for the Faroes

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.

Yellow Wagtail

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.

American White-winged Scoter

American White-winged Scoter

 

American Coot

American Coot

 

Hooded Merganser

Hooded Merganser

During a single day of birding with Steve Wytema in the Nederlands I managed to connect with the wintering male Siberian Rubythroat.

Siberian Rubythroat

Siberian Rubythroat

3 weeks in Tanzania offered great birding and seeing the almost-extinct Beesley’s Lark was truly awesome.

Beesley's Lark

Beesley’s Lark

And lastly in December I managed to see a Siberian Accentor in Hirtshals, Denmark.

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

 

siberian-accentor-a7

All in all an amazing year of birding on the Faroes and abroad!

Silas

 

 

 

 

 

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

Two days ago the kids, the wife and I went onboard Norröna – the ferry between Iceland, Faroes and Denmark. Our destination was Hirtshals in Denmark. After a great trip lasting 36 hours we arrived in Hirtshals.

A Siberian Accentor has been present there for more than a month and Danish birder Rasmus Strack had provided me with great maps showing where to look for the bird. Thanks, Rasmus.

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

While my wife took the kids to the famous aquarium in Hirtshals I went looking for the bird. Right upon arrival I met two birders, who had seen the bird earlier in the morning. There had been several people, who had been watching the bird, so they reckoned that there would still be people around.

So with much excitement I walked into the area, but couldn’t find neither bird nor birders. Well, I did see some Blue Tits, Great Tits, Bullfinches, Redpolls and other common stuff. I started to wonder if I was at the right spot, so I called Lars Paaby, who had seen the bird earlier in the day. It turned out that all the birders has left as the Siberian Accentor had moved on. But Lars gave me great details of where to look for the bird – so the remaining ingredients were hard work and luck.

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

As one hour turned into two hours I started to get a bit worried. At one point I found a Dunnock and later I caught a glimpse so “something” that looked very interesting in a shrubbery close to the main road. At one point Rune Sø Neergaard turned up. He had seen the bird on the day it was found, but such a jewel is worth seeing again. We decided to look for it together and I told him about the “something” that I had seen. So we went to check the are again and two Dunnocks and “something” gave brief views. The Dunnocks crossed the road and Rune followed them to see if there was more to be found and I stayed put at the original place.

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

After a short while Rune whistles. He had relocated the Siberian Accentor across the road. So I hurried over there and other birders were notified.

The bird was easily relocated and gave amazing views during the one hour that I spent with the bird. It was not shy at all, but just like Dunnocks it was just hard to find – much like a Lancey.

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor is probably the bird I’ve been looking for the most on the Faroes during the autumn, so it was great to finally see one even though it was in Denmark.

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

 

Siberian Accentor

Siberian Accentor

Silas

Update

 

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

Well, when I start working it’s dark and when I return home from work it is dark. So not a lot of time for birding. But Rodmund keeps the spirit high and has found a Ring-necked Duck (2. Winter male), a Tundra Bean Goose and relocated the long-staying Steller’s Eider in Sumba and a male American Wigeon on Sandoy.

On the 23rd November I found a Yellow Wagtail – that is late! And it was very grey like a Citrine Wagtail. Yoav made a post about the bird on birding frontiers: http://birdingfrontiers.com/2016/11/27/frosty-wagtail-on-faroes/

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

I relocated the bird two days ago and today Rodmund also saw it. We have now obtained permission to catch the bird and hopefully get some DNA so it can be nailed beyond doubt.

Yellow Wagtail

Yellow Wagtail

During September Kat Snell caught 5 Lesser Whitethroats on Nólsoy. They were all dna-tested and all of them belonged to the eastern blythi. It kind of confirms my suspicion that we get a lot of these eastern birds here during autumn.

I’ve also made a small movie about some of the rare birds I’ve found on the Faroes during the autumn: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfTR5c1Fnb0

Silas

 

 

Food birding

 

Kirkja on Fugloy

Kirkja on Fugloy

One of the things that really shock foreign birders is the fact, that I have permission to enter most good gardens on the Faroes. Frankly people just find it interesting if I ask if I can look for birds in their gardens. That would not be the case in most of Europe.

Svínoy and the ferry

Svínoy and the ferry

Yesterday I checked Fugloy – the easternmost island of the Faroes. And Hattavík is the easternmost village. It really is way out in nothing. There is not a single tree in the village, so it doesn’t keep most birds for long. But it is stunningly beautiful.

Hattarvík

Hattarvík

 

Hattarvík and fulmar

Hattarvík and fulmar

The other village on the island is Kirkja. It has a few gardens and can potentially offer great birding. But yesterday it was kinda wet and cold. So when the first villager invited me to eat and have a cup of coffee I accepted the invitation. It was nice sitting there in the 100 year old house chatting to Jógvan Páll. But after an hour I went birding.

Coffe at Jógvan Pálls place

Coffe at Jógvan Pálls place

But suddenly a window opened and the mayor of the village invited me to eat soup in her house. I accepted the invitation and when I entered the living room I found several other visitors including the pastor from Viðareiði. And the soup was not just soup. After the soup came locally produced meet, local potatoes and other good stuff – all perfectly cooked. And then a ton of chocolate and coffee afterwards.

After dinner at the Majors place

After dinner at the Mayors place

Well, I didn’t find any Pine Buntings or Siberian Accentors on Fugloy, but I really had a good time.

Coffee and cake at Eskilds place with the Great Tits in the garden

Coffee and cake at Eskilds place with the Great Tits in the garden

On the 1. November two Great Tits were seen in Klaksvík by Eskild Hansen in his garden. I went there today and as soon as I came Eskild invited me to drink coffee and eat cake while waiting for the birds to return to the feeder. So we had a lovely chat, loads of coffee and good cake. And then suddenly the Great Tits were there! It is the 6th record for the Faroes.

great-tit-a4

great-tit-a2

Great Tits

Great Tits

Silas Olofson