While Iceland and Yann hit jackpot again with Hume’s Warbler today the Faroes are starting to look embarrassing. Where are the mouth-watering megas?
As I looked out the wind this morning two Song Thrushes were foraging in the garden. That is a new garden tick – and shows that some movement is happening. Yesterday night was amazing in that perspective. Thousands of Redwings were moving thru, Their call could be heard almost every second. A fisherman even called me to ask what all the birds on their trawler just north of the Faroes were. Hundreds of birds were attracted to the boat and they even caught on exhausted bird on the deck and released it – Redwings! Personally I think Yann sent them all to the Faroes so it would be more difficult to find a White’s, Naumann’s or Eye-browed Thrush and then win the competition of finding most rarities this autumn.
Today I checked the northern islands. At Viðareiði there were several tristis, Goldcrests and Blackcaps.
In Àrnafirði a nice looking Chiffchaff (prob. ssp. abietinus) was present on the beach and there were also some Bramblings and Blackcaps.
In Kunoy there was more of the same including two Mealy Redpolls.
In Grøv in Klaksvík there were lots of Redwings and a flock of Redpolls. And what a nice flock. My first typical Greenlad Redpoll (rostrata) of the autumn was among them. Suck redpoll-beasts!
But most birds looked like Mealy dudes. But there was one nice bright bird, that would probably go as an Arctic Redpoll in Shetland 320 km to the southeast. The bird had a large white rump patch, entirely white undertail and not too much streaking on the flanks. I’ll let the pictures talk.
Siberian Chiffchaff and three Blackcaps
A few nights ago we had the first night with temperatures below zero. And cold clear nights means mass departure. So in spite of intense birding almost nothing was around the next day. But yesterday we got strong easterly winds again and right away new birds started arriving.
I had time to check Rituvík, Æðuvík and Lamba yesterday afternoon. It had been raining cats and dog all day and continued to do so. But the spectacle was amazing. Every pine tree contained several Goldcrests. And Chiffchaffs and Robins were also all over.
In Lamba an eastern looking Lesser Whitethroat was also present foraging in the open in spite of the rain.
Eastern type Lesser Whitethroat
With all these new arrivals I decided to check Svínoy today. I really love that island. So peaceful. No cars almost. Few people. No cats. No rats. Just birding. I choose to go there in spite of the forecast showing torrential rain most of the day.
Siberian Chiffchaff, Robin and Blackcap
As soon as I arrived I saw lots of migrants. Chiffchaffs, Bramblings, Robins, Chaffinches, Siberian Chiffchaffs… There were birds all over.
There were also tons of Redwings (500+) including 3 Song Thrushes.
The problem was that I got soaked right away and birding conditions were next to impossible for almost my entire stay. I needed to dry the bins ever time it was in use – wich means all the time. And there was movement everywhere… so I used a lot of time to checked Goldcrests. A true invasion of Goldcrests occurred.
But to cut the story short I didn’t find any rarities. Apart from a single Yellow-browed Warbler, a Glaucous Gull and four Siberian Chiffchaffs I didn’t find anything uncommon.
Reports of two Red-flanked Bluetails and a White’s Thrush from Iceland was great news. With this massive arrival of migrants some good birds have to be around on the Faroes too. The only question is if they’ll be found before departing.
The last two days I’ve been birding on Suðuroy – the southernmost island of the Faroes. Over all it is probably the best island for birding as it is open to receiving birds from both the east and the west. And it is quite isolated.
Great Northern Diver
During these two days the nightwish “Away” really hit me:
The days were brighter
Gardens more blooming
The nights had more hope
In their silence
The wild was calling
Wishes were whispering
The time was there
But without a meaning
Away, away in time
Every dream’s a journey away
Away to a home away from care
Everywhere’s just a journey away
The light is fading. Trees are bare. And it’s getting cold. The last two days have had clear nights with temperatures below 5 C. This means that most birds have departed. Especially the warm-loving species. The dream birds are a journey away.
Greyish Willow Warbler
So I knew the conditions when coming to Suðuroy. Potentially there could be an awesome yank after all those westerlies recently. Maybe even a roof from the Cork Football Stadion… But there wouldn’t be many migrants around.
But in order to find rarities one has to follow the rules of the mighty Gyr Crake: Thou shall always bird. Don’t wait for good conditions. Just bird!
But well. I didn’t find any serious yanks. Highlights were the long-staying Steller’s Eider, eastern type Lesser Whitethroat, Yellow-browed Warbler, a greyish Willow Warbler, lots of Redwings, some Blackcaps, several Merlins, a Shoveler and Black-tailed Godwit.
But the best bird for me was a Dunnock. It is about annual on the Faroes (surely overlooked). But this particular bird gave amazing views and I managed to get some photos.
It is late autumn birding. Hopefully the autumn still is able to deliver a few goodies, but let’s see what the future brings.
The waterfalls defy the law of gravity
Windy again. Quite windy. The waterfalls do not reach their base. Then it is windy. And the winds are westerly. Not ideal for Mugimakis, Yellow-rumped Flycatchers, Forest Wagtails or Black-browed Reed Warblers… But maybe a yank?
I did a little birding today combined with throat fishing with the kids. We caught one Sea Throat, but it was too windy for any great catch.
So we did some birding from the car. In Viðareiði a Willow Warbler, a Carrion Crow and a Bar-tailed Godwit were found.
In Àrnafirði as flock of Whooper Swans sought shelter and hundreds of Icelandic Redwings were around.
In Klaksvík a flock of Redpolls were present in the plantation. Among the Mealy Redpolls I found two Lesser Redpolls. If accepted it’s the fourth record for the Faroes of this species/race.
One bird stood out as rather pale with a white rump. But I think it’s just a pale Mealy Redpoll. All Arctic Redpolls during the last 30 years have been reassesed and rejected due to the fact that Icelandic Redpolls can be similar to most anything except typical Hornemanni’s Arctic Redpolls. So it’s hard to get any Coues’s Actic Redpolls accepted.
Pale Mealy Redpoll
Pale Mealy Redpoll
The last two days have been wet and windy. Birding has been quite hard and challenging. Three days ago another Parrot Crossbill was found in Tórshavn and is still present there today.
Today I found a Whinchat, Siberian and Common Chiffchaff and Iceland Gull in Sørvágur.
On the 9th Rodmund found 5 Ring-necked Ducks at Sørvágsvatn. Today they were still present even though I only got four birds in the same frame. 5 Ring-necked Ducks together on the Faroes is truly a remarkable record.
In Miðvágur two Pied Flycatchers, a Dunlin and a Redpoll sp were around.
In Hvalvík 3 Chaffinches and a Blackcap were seen and at Eiði two Yellow-browed Warblers, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Duck and another Blackcap were seen.
In these windy conditions birding takes a long time. And it looks like quite a few migrants have moved on in connection with the storms that are coming and going. Wind speed have been measuring 48 m/s yesterday and for a while all the wind stations measured more than 30 m/s.
Hopefully some better weather and good birds will turn up before the autumn is over.
Today I went birding on Eysturoy and Streymoy with my youngest daughter. There were plenty of migrants around. They included Sparrow Hawk, 3 Yellow-browed Warblers, 4 Slavonian Grebes, 3 Grey Herons, Stonechat, Wood Pigeon, several Chiffchaffs, Bramblings and Chaffinches.
Several Redpolls have reached the islands during the last week. At Rituvík a small flock was very mobile and I never got views of the flock on the ground – but at least one stood out as a possible Arctic Redpoll.
In Klaksvík a possible Lesser Redpoll was around and Mealy Redpolls were seen at Eiði and Hvalvík.
Possible Lesser Redpoll
The best bird for me was a 1cy Black Redstart at Eiði. It is the 12th record for the Faroes if accepted and my third self-found.
Rodmund was the architect behind the most exceptional record of the day. At Sørvágsvatn he found no less than 5 1.cy Ring-necked Ducks in a flock. Even though 13 birds have been seen together in Ireland this is still quite a mass arrival of this American duck. One cannot help to wonder what else it out there.
5 Ring-necked Ducks – photo by Rodmund á Kelduni
Yesterdays star bird was of course the first White-crowned Sparrow for the Faroes at Viðareiði. Yoav Perlman posted a picture of the bird on Global Rarity Alert on facebook. There the bird caught some American birders attention due to the fact that this bird seems to fit the western taiga subspecies ssp. gambelii rather than the eastern ssp. leucophrys.
The two main features used for subspecies identification are the colour of the bill and lores.
Ssp. gambelii has a yellow-orange bill whereas eastern ssp. leucophrys has a darker pink bill.
Ssp. gambelii has pale grey lores whereas eastern ssp. leucophrys has dark lores.
The bird from Viðareiði shows both pale lores and a yellow-orange bill fitting the subspecies gambelii. But as always caution should be taken especially when thinking of the fact the ssp. gambelii is the subspecies breeding farthest away from the Faroes.
Other features are also mentioned and a short article about his topic can be read here.
Today Rodmund and I searched for the bird for several hours, but we were not able to relocate it. Interestingly a White-crowned Sparrow turned up on Foula, which could be the Faroese bird as there are less than 400 kilometers from Viðareiði to Foula.
As a minor comfort Rodmund found both a Little Stint at Viðareiði and a Northern Goshawk at Hvalvík – the 3rd for the Faroes if it is not the same bird at in Kunoy last weekend.