Hudsonian Dunlin?

Hvannasund

November equals gales, rain and snow. And this year is no exception. This means that birding becomes more difficult and much less time is spent in the field. But there are still birds around.

The Great Tit that I found on the 7th was relocated by a local in Klaksvík on the 12th and he managed to photograph the bird. It’s the 8th record for the Faroes.

Willow Warbler

 

Tree Sparrow

At Viðareiði the Tree Sparrow, a Willow Warbler, two Barnacle Geese, a Skylark and a Carrion Crow are still present.

Barnacle Goose

 

Skylark

In Hvannasund a late juvenile Red-throated Diver seeked shelter a few days ago.

Red-throated Diver

On the 11th Erla Berghamar photographed an Arctic Redpoll in Tórshavn.

But the most interesting record was a late Dunlin in Trongisvágur photographed by Turið Vestergaard. I reacted to the bird right away and sent some pictures to Harry Hussey, who also thought the bird looked intriguing. He mentioned Hudsonian Dunlin as a possibility. On the birdingfrontiers blog, there is a post about Hudsonian Dunlins and the Faroes bird seems to fit the description.

Some characteristics pointing towards ssp. hudsonia include short streaks on the flanks of the underparts and the fact that the bill drops down at the tip. Note also the characteristic pattern of the supercilium.

But can ssp. hodsonia be reliably identified in the field outside its normal range? And do you have comments on the id?

 

Silas Olofson

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Autumn review

This is a short overview of records of rare birds from August to October 2017.

White-crowned Sparrow

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.

Grey Phalarope

 

September

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.

Bonaparte’s Gulls

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.

Paddyfield Warbler

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.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

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.

 

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).

Olive-backed Pipit

 

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.

White-crowned Sparrow

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.

Ring-necked Ducks

On the 21th I found an Arctic Redpoll in Klaksvík and another bird was present there on the 23rd.

Arctic Redpoll

 

Arctic Redpoll

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.

Firecrest

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.

White-rumped Sandpiper

 

Common migrants

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.

Yellow-browed Warbler

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! 

Silas Olofson

 

 

 

White-rumped Sandpiper

White-rumped Sandpiper

A few days ago I talked to Yann Kolbeinsson about the prospects of good birds arriving. He wasn’t too optimistic with the forecast – but an American shorebird could turn up. And as always it happened…

Yesterday Rodmund found a White-rumped Sandpiper at Eiði. This the third record for the Faroes. Rodmund also found the first and I the second. So in this area he beats me.

White-rumped Sandpiper

 

White-rumped Sandpiper

Today I checked Eiði. The bird was relocated and eventually gave amazing views today as I laid down on the rocks and waited for it to pass by. What a stunner!

White-rumped Sandpiper

 

White-rumped Sandpiper

Other birds around included a Chiffchaff, a Cormorant and an Iceland Gull.

White-rumped Sandpiper

 

Silas

The Parrot Crossbill invasion

Parrot Crossbill

This year has been amazing when it comes to crossbills. In late July five Two-barred Crossbills were seen on the Faroes. Prior to this year there were 11 records, and only one year with more than one bird reported.

The influx of Parrot Crossbills started with 100+ birds on September 25th on Utsira according to Atle Grimsby. But these records slipped under my nose, so I was aware of nothing.

On October 1st I first heard a Crossbill on Suðuroy, that sounded like a Parrot Crossbill. I was birding with Janus Hansen and told him of the observation. We gave it a go and I caught brief views as it disappeared into the plantation. We searched for it, but could not relocate the bird.

In the morning I had found a Buff-breasted Sandpiper. And we still had quite a few hotspots left to check. So slowly I convinced myself that it was a waste of time looking for a crossbill – after all it was 10 years ago I heard my last Parrot Crossbill in Denmark. So I was probably mistaking. We left the bird and moved on.

The bomb dropped when Iceland reported a Parrot Crossbill later on the same day and Shetland reported up to 5 on Unst the follow day. By then I had left the island with no chance for checking the plantation. No wonder my focus switched to pine forest birding the next days.

On the 3rd October I checked Miðvágur, and caught brief views of a crossbill. But I had to pick up some people at the airport, so I wasn’t able to pursue the bird. Rodmund checked it later on, but he only got brief views too.

On the 4th October I checked the plantation again and finally after a long search I found it – a splendid male Parrot Crossbill. Rodmund also managed to connect with the bird.

On the same day Rodmund and I checked Sørvágur, where Rodmund found an additional Parrot Crossbill and we also found two Olive-backed Pipits.

Parrot Crossbill

After finding the first bird I didn’t do much pine forest birding. But on the 10th Erla Berghamar photographed another male in the plantation in Tórshavn. It was there for at least 3 days.

Parrot Crossbill c1Parrot Crossbills

Then on the 23rd October I found two dead birds at Oyrabakki in a garden. I presume that the birds were killed by a cat as they were nicely placed almost on top of each other.

In total 5-6 birds were seen or heard during the invasion. The actual numbers are a matter for imagination. But with daily totals numbering up to 21 birds in Shetland on the 3rd October according to nature-shetland.co.uk it is probable that many more birds were present on the Faroes.

Pine Grosbeak – Denmark

Now another interesting thing is the ongoing Pine Grosbeak invasion. 500+ at an island in Sweden (Store Fjaderegg) and several reports in western Norway during the last week look promising. A Shetland record is from November 8th. If only we had some strong easterlies coming up…

Pine Grosbeak – Denmark

Silas

Local gold

Wren

Yesterday I did some birding on Eysturoy. The highlight included a late dull Yellow-browed Warbler at Eiði and a Grey Wagtail at Rituvík. The Firecrest could not be relocated.

Yellow-browed Warbler

 

Yellow-browed Warbler

But the highlight was an invitation to dried sheep meat and coffee at Eiði. Jógvan Hammer, father of biologist Sjúrður Hammer, invited me for lunch – and we had a great time. For me birding is just as much about people as it is about birds.

Jógvan

Today I checked Viðareiði. Eysturi á Heygum I found 3 Skylarks, 1 Woodlark, 1 Little Bunting, 1 Ruff, 1 Water Rail, Tree Sparrow and a Jack Snipe. But in the heat of the battle my phone rang. Our son didn’t feel so well so I had to pick him up at the kindergarten. So I wasn’t able to pursue the birds, that were quite hard to work with. Hopefully they will be around tomorrow.

Water Rail

 

Skylark

 

Ruff

 

Tree Sparrow

In the afternoon I had a few moments to check the plantation Grøv in Klaksvík. There I found a Great Grey Shrike – only the 9th for the Faroes and my second self-found.

Great Grey Shrike

So there are still plenty of birds around. And today I found some local gold. Now bring the mega! Like a Bluetit… it is rarer than Red-flanked Bluetail…

Grey Wagtail

 

Siberian Chiffchaff

 

Bramblings and Mealy Redpoll

Silas

When Gold becomes Fire

Dunnock

Today I checked Viðareiði quite throughly. 5 Blackcaps, 6 Siberian Chiffchaffs, 8 Goldcrests, Short-eared Owl and a Lapwing were the best birds around.

Lapwing

 

Shoveler

In Árnafirði there were more Goldcrests, Blackcaps and Siberian Chiffchaffs, but quality stepped up a bit with a Common Rosefinch and a Dunnock.

Dunnock

 

Common Rosefinch

Then I checked Kunoy and Klaksvík. Goldcrests and more Goldcrests. That Firecrest had to be there somewhere. I’ve checked about 300 Goldcrests the last week. According to Mike Pennington (yes, the Mike Pennington) 9 have been recorded on Shetland this autumn surpassing the old record of 5 by almost 100%. Furthermore Harry Hussey told me that it was a good year for the species in Ireland. So it should come.

Mike Pennington

The Birds of Shetland

Just as I returned home after an ok day in the field Karl A. Thomsen sent me two pictures of a Firecrest. Her wasn’t totally sure of the id, but they pics spoke for themselves. Another national first! He found the bird in his garden. Since I still had 2 hours of usable light I drove the 25 minute drive to Syðragøta.

Siberian Chiffchaff

As I started birding I found 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 Goldcrests, Siberian Chiffchaff and 4 Redpolls (one pos. Arctic). But then when light was fading and winter was coming I spotted a small bird in a Larch tree. Goldcrest size with white eyebrowe. YES! The first Firecrest for the Faroes relocated!!! Finally Gold turned into Fire!!!

Firecrest

 

Firecrest

I managed to get some poor pictures in the fading light. But at least Stephen Dunstan cannot tease me about the wonders of the Skerries when it comes to Firecrests this autumn!

Unlike White-crowned Sparrow, Wilson’s Storm-petrel and Parrot Crossbill Firecrest was actually on the top 11 of most expected new to the Faroes. Maybe this is a good time to call it a top 10 from now on.

After a long period of bad weather, lots of common migrants and scarcities a true rarity was finally found today. But I’m not quite ready for hibernation yet. Maybe there is still a good bird or two left to be found?

Silas

Prime Minister Birding

Redwing

October has been quite odd when it comes to prime ministers. Or former prime ministers of the Faroes one should add.

When I first found the White-crowned Sparrow at Viðareiði is was actually foraging in the garden of a former prime minister – Anfinn Kallsberg.

Bramblings

 

Bramblings

Last week when I went birding on Suðuroy I stumbled into Jóannes Eidesgaard – another former prime minister. We had a good talk about birds, nature and politics. He was walking his dog in the plantation where I found a likely Parrot Crossbill a few weeks ago.

Goldcrest

Yesterday I checked the garden of Edmund Joensen – yet another former prime minister. He has an awesome garden on Oyrabakki. We’ve talked about birds before and when he saw me he came out to talk. His garden was loaded with Goldcrests and Redwings. After a while he invited me in to a small cottage in the garden. As we walked around the cottage we stumbled upon a pile of dead Parrot Crossbills (well, two females that were dead on top of each other). I think it’s unlikely that the two birds would die on top of each other, so my guess is that a cat has managed to catch them – and Edmund does sometimes see feral cats chasing birds in his garden.

Parrot Crossbills

So it seems that there is a connection between former prime ministers and rare birds. Has anyone checked Downing Street for Townsend Warblers lately?

Otherwise the last few days can best be labeled ”more of the same”. Especially Bramblings, Redwings, Goldcrests and Redpolls are present in good numbers. Several Siberian Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps are also present. Another possible Artctic Redpoll was at Klaksvík, so there are two pale birds there now.

Arctic Redpoll?

 

Arctic Redpoll?

A few scarcities include Dunnock at Árnafirði, Shoveler and Lapwing at Viðareiði, Glaucous Gull in Klaksvík and a Common Redstart at Eiði. All the ingredients are in place – but where is that mega?

Manx Shearwater seconds before release

Yesterday night my father in law rescued a Manx Shearwater chick that was caught up in traffic in Klaksvík. He caught the bird and gave it to me, so it could dry and be released. Nice to get up and close with this cool species. Now it is hopefully doing just fine far off shore.

Manx Shearwater after release