It is time for a little review of the autumn and winter of 2022. I returned from Mongolia in late September and we have decided to settle down in the village where my wife grew up called Hvannasund on the Faroes after living mostly abroad since 2012.
Late September saw the arrival of low numbers of eastern migrants. The first scarce bird was a Marsh Warbler at Viðareiði on the 23rd. Five Yellow-browed Warblers and a Wood Warbler in Hvalvík on the 27th were nice. On the 28th I twitched the third Bar-headed Goose for the Faroes, which had been present for some days on Sandoy.
On Sandoy I also saw two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a total of at least 10 documented birds were recorded on the Faroes during autumn. This is twice the number of the great invasion of 2012, where 5 birds were seen.
October started well with a Peregrine on Svínoy. Only the 12th record for the Faroes. At least 10 Tree Sparrows were also present on the island including several juveniles proving that breeding has been going on probably since 2013 on the island with other birds breeding at Gjógv on Eysturoy.
October turned out to be quite windy and messy with lots of fast-moving depressions limiting arrivals from the east, but keeping the arrived birds grounded for much longer than usual. For instance a Pied Flycatcher was present for the entire month in Hvalvík.
On the 7th the first mega turned up. I was birding on the island of Vágar on the western Faroe Islands. It was rainy but as I was driving to Sørvágur I saw that the sun was shining in Gásadalur, which is the westernmost village on the island. So I headed straight to the village. It only has two gardens, so checking for warblers is rather simple. Shortly after arrival I saw a stringing yellow bird in the scrubs. The jizz and colours were unlike any European warblers and I knew I was facing a yank. After a few very long minutes the bird emerged and the first Yellow Warbler for the Faroes was in the book. Soon the bird got very active and offered views beyond belief. This is only the third American warbler recorded on the Faroes following Tenneessee and Black-and-white Warbler back in the days. Now I look forward to the next one.
The following weekend the Faroese Ornithological Society arranged a tour to Suðuroy – the southernmost island of the archipelago. The female Steller´s Eider had returned to its wintering site in Sumba for the 7th consecutive year. We also found two Ring-necked Ducks and an American Black Duck on the islands. But apart from that birds were few and far between.
Really bad and unstable weather made birding in October hard, but after some strong northerly winds I found a Hornemann´s Arctic Redpoll on the 13th. It is probably a regular albeit scarce visitor to the Faroes if you look at the occurrence on Shetland for comparison. But this is only my second solid record with several birds being put into the ”maybe” bag by the Danish RC. There actually is only one accepted record of ssp. hornemanni on the Faroes before this.
Mid October saw the arrival of a few persistent eastern migrants including Barred Warbler, Yellow-browed Warblers and in Húsavík I found a Olive-backed Pipit. Only my third confirmed individual on the Faroes.
On the 19th I took a hike to look for the returning male Snowy Owl that has been seen by herders for the last three consecutive autumn. This year it was first seen in late August. After a long hike I managed to find the bird. It showed amazingly well after I used more than an hour just approaching slowly. I even managed to collect some pellets, which I handed over to the Museum of Natural History, but they haven´t had time to look at them just yet.
On the 23rd of October I visited Suðuroy again. In Fámjin I found the second (and my second self-found) White-crowned Sparrow. Still the only American sparrow-species recorded here.
Late October again showed some arrivals from the east including several Goldfinches, a Rook, Eurasian Sparrowhawk,a late Red-breasted Flycatcher on the 1st of November and two Mistle Thrushes on the 2nd.
Late November saw the arrival of several Tundra Bean Geese and Russian White-fronted Geese and at Toftavatn a total of 5 Ring-necked Ducks were present.
As December arrived we had strong northerly winds bringing down good numbers of Iceland and Glaucous Gulls. On the 8th I got a photo from a man working off shore showing an adult Ivory Gull. I rushed to Suðuroy, where I got permission to go out with the boat close to the salmon farms. After 30 minutes the Ivory Gull showed amazingly well in the scarce light. What a beauty and what a gift before Christmas.
Late December saw snowfall that I haven´t seen since I was kid. Our cars were stuck for several day outside the house in the snow and the kids had a blast playing in the snow. Birding was very limited, but on the 30th I almost spilled my morning coffee as a Rough-legged Buzzard flew past our window just 30 meters away being chased by corvids and gulls. I grabbed my camera and after 30 minutes of searching I relocated the bird and managed to document it by taking pictures. Quite a way of ending the year.
It is still cold now in early January and plenty of Iceland Gulls including a few Kumlien`s Gulls have arrived. Now it will be exciting to see what 2023 has to offer.