Yanks!

Shoveler

Shoveler

Since the last post things are staring to warm up. On the 5th the ornithological society of the Faroes arranged tours on different islands. I guided tours in Viðareiði and Eiði. It was very amusing to walk and talk with people about birds and nature.

Shoveler

In total 73 species were seen on this day. Personally I saw 56 – the highlights including Mandt’s Guillemot and two Mandarin Ducks at Kaldbaksbotn and a pair of Shovelers in Tórshavn.

Mandt’s Guillemot

 

Mandarin Duck

On the 7th a White-tailed Eagle was seen at Hvalvík, but could not be relocated. So I still need it on my Faroese list. It is probably the bird that was seen in April. I wonder where it’s hiding.

On the 7th Karl Thomsen saw a Tree Sparrow in Syðrugøta and on the 8th a Crackling Goose was seen in Tórshavn. Sadly it turned out to be an escape.

The last few days have seen gale force winds that originated along the eastern coast of North America. It looked very promising and spring has brought yanks to our shore before (7th May 2016 produced Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Greater Yellowlegs and American Black Duck):

https://birdingfaroes.wordpress.com/2016/05/07/american-invasion/

Yesterday Rodmund braved the elements and relocated Aprils female Ring-necked Duck at Havnadalur and he also found a 2cy+ Pectoral Sandpiper. Good job! Some yanks had arrived.

Pectoral Sandpiper – Rodmund á Kelduni

Today I took my wife to the airport as she is going to visit family in Denmark. On the way to airport we passed Mjáuvøtn – a lake on Streymoy. I obtained permission to check the lake and found a male Ring-necked Duck along with 7 Tufted Ducks. Really quite a beauty! It gave good albeit quite distant views. It’s the 13th record for the Faroes and my 4th self-found.

Ring-necked Duck

 

Ring-necked Duck

After leaving my wife at the airport I checked several sites in search for more yanks. At on the lake at Eiði I found a Slavonian Grebe, 19 Barn Swallows and a House Martin, 50+ Arctic Terns, Arctic and Great Skua, 15 Tufted Ducks and about 30 Dunlin.

Arctic Terns

 

Slavonian Grebe

 

Slavonian Grebe

 

Slavonian Grebe

Then I checked the shore and bingo. An American Black Duck was foraging along with a female Mallard. It’s the 4th for the Faroes and my 3rd self-found even though I co-found the third too.

The thing with American Black Ducks is of course the hybrid question. Todays bird showed a white edge to the inner wing. It looks like pure bird can show this feature, but I am not quite sure.

So four yanks in two days. That ain’t bad. One can only wonder what would be found if more birders were out there these days.

Silas Olofson

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Mandt’s Guillemot and Red Kite

Wood Dove

Spring is kind of on hold. We still just manage 5-7 degree celsius and we haven’t had the southeasterlies needed to bring loads of migrants out there.

But things are happening. Great and Arctic Skuas, Whimbrels, Black-tailed Godwits, White Wagtails and Northern Wheatears have all arrived.

Chiffchaff

Today it was spiced up a bit with 10+ Chiffchaffs, 3 Barn Swallows, 2 Gadwalls, Shoveler, 2 Wood Pigeons and several nice breeding plumage Great Northern Divers.

With several yanks around in Scotland and Iceland including the weekend’s Ring-necked Duck at the Faroes I expect that some yanks could be around somewhere.

Redwing

Today I checked different sites around the islands. The highlight was the relocation of the Mandt’s Guillemot at Kaldbaksbotn. It’s still in winter plumage and looks very worn. But hopefully it will stay as it moults into breeding plumage.

Today Rodmund checked Suðuroy. There he found a Shoveler and a Red Kite, that has earlier been reported from Sumba. It looks to do fine even though it is mocked by the corvids. The Red Kite looks like the one seen earlier in Velbastaður and not like the bird from Gásadalur due to a broken primary.

Slavonian Grebe

Other birds include a few Hawfinches, 2 Mandarin Ducks and Siskins. Now we just wait for the mega.

Silas

Cattle and ring-necked

Pied Wagtail

Spring is here. Golden Plovers, Pied Wagtails, Gadwalls, Rook, Whimbrels, Wheatears, Reed Buting… but since the Red Kite not much has been happening. Until yesterday when a Cattle Egret was photographed at Sandoy and a/the Red Kite was photographed at Sumba.

Gadwall

 

Rook

Kúhegri RáK 3

Cattle Egret: Rodmund á Kelduni

 

Today Rodmund found a Ring-necked Duck at Havnadalur and the Cattle Egret was still present.

Silas Olofson

 

Red Kite

The preferred habitat of the Red Kite

Yesterday I had some work to do in Tórshavn which provided me with the opportunity to do some birding. In the plantation I found a flock of 10+ Redpolls including a very pale bird. But it never provided good views, so it remains unidentified. I called Rodmund to tell him about the putative Arctic Redpoll and of course we talked about the White-tailed eagle and the Red Kite seen earlier.

Gásadalur

I had checked most of the obvious areas with no result, so jokingly I suggested that both birds might be in Gásadalur on the island of Vágar where Rodmund lives. As I arrived back home after driving to the capital and back to Hvannasund Rodmund called me.

Red Kite

 

Red Kite

I’ve just found the Red Kite in Gásadalur he told me. From Hvannasund to Gásadalur there are 105 km. Almost the longest distance that you can drive by car on the Faroes (east to west). I jumped into the car and after 1½ hour I arrived in Sørvágur and picked up Rodmund before going the final miles to Gásadalur.

Upon arrival we found the Red Kite right away as it flew into the valley. We only saw it for about 10 seconds and it didn’t show again until dusk.

I was kinda unhappy with the views obtained so after enjoying a good meal at Rodmunds place I crashed at Januses place in Sandavágur. Janus is the head of the Museum of Natural History on the Faroes.

Skerpikjøt at Rodmund’s place

After enjoying a cosy evening and morning with Janus I returned to Gásadalur. After less than an hour the Red Kite turned up. I phoned Rodmund and soon he arrived with coffee and newly baked danish… Surely a friend in need giving the cold snowy conditions.

Coffee in the snow

 

Rodmund and I after seeing the Red Kite 

 

Coffee and Rodmund

The Red Kite seemed to fancy the steep cliffs close to the village and as we sad and had our coffee it suddenly arrived giving exceptional views. It was foraging along the cliffs below us for at least 15 minutes. Truly a stunning experience.

 

Red Kite

 

Red Kite

 

Red Kite

After scrutinizing the pictures it looks like the bird seen on the 30th of March at Velbastaður is in deed a different bird than the bird in Gásadalur (the Velbastaður bird had a broken primary feather and was worn differently). This makes the Gásadalur bird the 3rd record for the Faroes.

Silas

Spring is around

Long-tailed Ducks

Nice sunny weather and fresh snow in the mountains. Spring is slowly arriving. We finally have plenty of daylight and birding is a delight. Scarce and rare birding are also turning up.

A White-tailed Eagle was first seen about a week ago on Suðuroy. It’s the 9th record since 1842. Since  its discovery it has moved further north and was seen yesterday in Leirvík. I’ve been trying to relocate the bird several times without luck. Raptors are in deed very difficult birds to work with on the Faroes. They tend to be mocked to exhaustion by local gulls, ravens and crows. Only smaller falcons seem to be left alone. Actually raptors that I’ve seem on the Faroes like Gyr Falcon, Peregrine, Honey Buzzard and Black Kite have all just given brief views before flying off.

With records of Red Kite from both Utsira and Shetland during the last week I warned Rodmund that one might be coming this way. And yesterday it materialized. A Red Kite was photographed at Velbastaður close to Tórshavn. It was observed with a crowd of crows chasing it. After the sighting was published on facebook it looks like people have seen a raptor that might very well be the Red Kite two days ago in Gjógv and later Saksun. In spite of intense search it has not been relocated today. There is one previous record of a Red Kite found dead in Leirvík a few year back also in late March.

Red Kite – photo by Bjarki G. Dalsgarð

I spent Wednesday to Friday on Sandoy with the family. I managed to get out for a little birding. Highlighs included the wintering American Wigeon, Short-eared Owl, Hawfinch, Common Merganser, Greenland Greater White-fronted Goose and an early Sanderling.

American Wigeon

 

Short-eared Owl

The best bird of the trip was quite a surprise. While leaving the island on the ferry I found a white winter plumage Mandt’s Guillemot in Skopun. It was sitting on a rock but as it took of I managed to see white on the upper side of the primaries. I also managed to get a few shots of the bird.

Mandt’s Guillemot – Skopun

 

Mandt’s Guillemot – Skopun

I immediately suspected that it was the bird from Sund that had moved on. So on the way back home I checked Sund and Kaldbaksbotn. Rodmund had relocated that bird one day earlier at Kaldbaksbotn. To my surprise it was still present making the Skopun bird the second Mandt’s Guilemot for the Faroes. So maybe it’s not such a rarity after all?

Mandt’s Guillemot – Kaldbaksbotn

 

Mandt’s Guillemot

The bird in Kaldbaksbotn gave amazing views yesterday and seems to check all the boxes when it comes to Mandt’s Guillemot.

Mandt’s Guillemot

 

Mandt’s Guillemot

Now let us see what the next week brings. Happy easter everyone!

Silas

Mandt’s Guillemot

Mandt’s Guillemot

A few weeks ago I was shown a bad quality photo of a pale Black Guillemot apparently taken weeks or even months ago. It looked very interesting as a possible Mandt’s Guillemot. As the observation seemed old I’d didn’t travel to Sund close to Tórshavn to look for it. And the quality of the one picture was so bad that it would never be accepted as a such anyways.

Yesterday new pictures taken on the 6h of March were presented on the internet on Jens-Kjeld Jensens homepage. The photos still were not very good, but it surely looked much paler than our resident faroeensis Black Guilemots.

Mandt’s Guillemot

Today I happened to pass the place where the pictures were taken 19 days ago. So I convinced the family to check the place Í Sundi. A long shot alright, but if you don’t try you don’t succeed. As we drew along the pier my 7-year-old daughter, who fancies birds all of a sudden asked: ”Hey dad, what’s that black and white bird with a black bill over there?” I got the bins on the bird and bingo! It was the pale Black Guillemot foraging only 30 meters away. Honestly I could easily have missed the bird if it wasn’t for my daughters sharp eyes.

Mandt’s Guillemot

 

Mandt’s Guillemot

The bird spent most of the time under water, where it caught at least three Rock Gunnels while we watched it. It gave amazing views and was much less shy than our breeding birds (which are almost in complete summer plumage now).

It think the bird is a strong candidate for a Mandt’s Guillemot from the Arctic.

  • White covers about half on the underside of the primaries (almost black in other taxa).

  • Secondaries similarily white-based.

  • White bar across median and greater covers on outer upperwing.

  • White colouring on primaries visible on upperwing.

Mandt’s Guillemot

 

Mandt’s Guillemot

 

Mandt’s Guillemot

 

Mandt’s Guillemot

The bird is moulting into summer plumage which explains the dark patches on the head and rump. The lack of black in the white ovals on the inner upperwing makes me think this is a 3cy+.

If accepted this will be the first record of Mandt’s Guillemot for the Faroe Islands. A truly stunning bird.

Silas Olofson

Mandt’s Guillemot

Eiders

 

 

Gannet

 

Gannet

It has been a bit quiet during the last month. Jack Snipe from the kitchen window, a Gannet, the first Lesser Black-backed Gull and lots of white-winged gulls pretty much summons it up. The one exception are eiders. Last month I found a female King Eider in Klaksvík. It was only present for a single day. I check the harbour almost daily so I’m quite sure it has been gone. But two days ago I relocated the bird. Now an adult male would be welcome.

Queen Eider and photo bombing gannet

 

Queem Eider

In Fuglafirði I found a Northern Eider (ssp. borealis) last week. It is thought to be a somewhat regular visitor, but I’ve never seen one myself. The orange bill, position of the nostrils and the sails all indicate borealis.

This week I found a different bird in Klaksvík. It had the same orange bill, but nostril position was more like our native ssp. faroeensis eiders. So I’m note sure if it can be nailed as anything with certainty. But a stunning bird non the less.

Bottom line is that my interest in eiders has been tricked. Maybe a Spectacled, v-nigrum, dresseri or a male Steller’s is around the corner?

Silas