This is a short overview of records of rare birds from August to October 2017.
During a pelagic trip lasting a week during the first half of August three Wilson’s Storm-petrels were seen along with thousands of European Storm-petrels and a few Leach’s Storm-petrels. These are the first Faroese records if accepted. These sightings kicked off the autumn of 2017 – which turned out to be breath-taking!
In mid August the first migrants like Willow Warblers and White Wagtails started to arrive in numbers. Ragnar Smith found a Great Shearwater from land at Hvalba on the 11th. This is the first record seen from land.
I found a juvenile Grey Phalarope at Viðareiði on the 19th. It’s the 7th record since 2002, when the species was re-admitted to the rarities list after several years without any records.
From 11th to 16th September David Lindo aka the Urban Birder visited me and we had 6 days of birding together.
The first mega of our trip turned up on the 13th when David and I found the second Bonaparte’s Gull for the Faroes at Fuglafjørður. On the 18th amazingly I found two birds there together. So the second and third record for the Faroes were a reality.
On the 16th David and I found the second American White-winged Scoter for the Faroes at Tjaldarvík. It was probably a 3rd winter bird. It was the second for the Faroes and the 19th for WP. So a real mega!
American White-winged Scoter
On the 22th two Little Stints were present at Viðareiði. It’s the 10th and 11th for the Faroes. On the 26th another bird was present and on 8th October another bird was around in the same area. It could be one of the two original birds that lingered.
On the 27th I found a Paddyfield Warbler at Leynar. It’s the 3rd record for the Faroes.
On the 29th I found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Akraberg. It was still present on the 1st October. It’s the 4th record for the Faroes.
On 30th September Rodmund found a Northern Goshawk in Kunoy. It’s the second record for the Faroes. The bird was present till at least 3rd October.
On 1st October I relocated the long-staying Steller’s Eider in Sumba after its whereabouts were unknown for almost two months. It was also present on October 17th and in November.
On the same day I had a fly by Crossbill, that called like a Parrot Crossbill at Trongisvágur. But it was not untill the 4th that I managed to nail one in Miðvágur. In total 6 birds were seen during the autumn including two birds found dead at Oyrabakki on the 23rd , a male in Sørvágur on the 4th and a male in Tórshavn on the 10th to 12th. Parrot Crossbill has never been recorded on the Faroes before.
Parrot Crossbill – Miðvágur
The 4th October turned to be a day that will not be easily forgotten. Besides the two Parrot Crossbills together with Rodmund I found two Olive-backed Pipits and an interesting looking male Redstart (though not spot on for samamisicus, but a stunner non the less).
Common Redstart sp
On the 7th the highlight of the autumn and probably the year was the 1st White-crowned Sparrow for the Faroes at Viðareiði. It is probably my best bird ever on the Faroes (a possible American Osprey that I found on the 16th September 2013 might be only the third for WP, but it is not accepted nor discarded by the Danish RC but put on hold). What makes the White-crowed Sparrow even more interesting is that it seems to be the western subspecies ssp. gambelii. If accepted as a such it will be the third for WP to my knowledge.
Sadly the bird was gone the next day, which makes it the only bird on my Faroese list that no one else has seen in the country. Interestingly the exact same bird turned up on Foula, Shetland, the next day. Foula is 345 km from Viðareiði.
On the 9th a Lesser Redpoll was at Grøv. It’s the 4th record for the Faroes. It was present to the 16th.
On the same day I found the 12th Black Redstart for the Faroes at Eiði.
But the sensation of the day was when Rodmund found no less than five Ring-necked Ducks at Sørvágsvatn. It’s the 12th record for the Faroes and the 9th time that Rodmund has found this species. Quite and achievement. All the birds stayed until at least the 12th.
On the 21th I found an Arctic Redpoll in Klaksvík and another bird was present there on the 23rd.
On the 24th the first Firecrest for the Faroes was found by Karl A. Thomsen in Syðrugøta. The record followed a record influx in Shetland numbering 9 birds exceeding the old record of 5 birds by almost 100%. The bird was present albeit mobile untill dusk. This was the first bird to be recorded during the autumn that was on the ”most expected” list.
On the 26th I found the 9th Great Grey Shrike for the Faroes at Grøv and a Tree Sparrow was at Viðareiði.
October ended with a very confiding White-rumped Sandpiper on the 30th found by Rodmund at Eiði. It was also present on the 31th, where I relocated the bird. It’s the third record for the Faroes.
Autumn is not just about rarities. Thus I’ll mention a bit about some of the classic autumn migrants.
Barred Warbler – a very poor year with only three birds seen. Average is about 15 pr autumn.
Common Rosefinch – a poor year with just two birds seen. Average is about 10.
Wryneck – only one seen, but annual counts are rarely higher than 2-3 birds.
Yellow-browed Warbler – yet another amazing year with the first bird arriving on the 11th September, which is the earliest record for the Faroes. I managed to find 105 during the autumn and a few more were seen, so the annual total is about 130. The species peaked from 20th to 30th September.
Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Blackcaps were all seen in their hundreds, which is normal.
Lesser Whitethroat – a normal year with 12 birds recorded. Most of these are probably ssp. blythi.
Other scarcities included a few Wood Warblers, Reed Warblers, Pied and Spotted Flycatchers, Jack Snipe, Bar-tailed Godwit, Quail and more.
As a last comment I can add that I found a Great Tit yesterday (7th November) in Klaksvík.
A video featuring some of the autumn’s highlights can be seen by clicking here!