Hume’s Leaf Warbler

humes-leaf-warbler-a2a

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

Today I went to Svínoy. My target was of course Siberian Accentor as it has been for the last month almost. Upon arrival I checked the first gardens. To my delight there were 5 Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Chiffchaffs and lots of Redwings around. The Lesser Whitethroat looked interesting almost resempling a Desert Warbler, as the head was almost brown.

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

 

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

 

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Eastern Lesser Whitethroat?

Further checks revealed more of the same. But at the harbor I found a pale Yellow-browed Warbler-type. It’s 31. October. It’s pale. It could be a Hume’s. Well, in the bright autumn sun it looked kinda saturated in colours, but still pale. So I followed the bird as it moved towards the gardens. And then duiiipppp. A dry single-toned call. Not the explosion and sharpness that you get from a Yellow-browed – and now I have passed 100 this year. Wow. Was it actually the first Hume’s Leaf Warbler for the Faroes? A few claims have been made, but non accepted.

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

Well, it was really grey, but the colour impression was very much dependant of the light conditions. I soon lost it in the dense gardens before relocating it in a ditch. But then it disappeared. Ohhh… too many ditches on Svínoy.

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

After several hours of searching I relocated the bird in the village and tried play-backed. Bingo! Beautiful reply with a classic Hume’s call. And I even managed to get the call on video. So it might actually get accepted.

Hume's Leaf Warbler

Hume’s Leaf Warbler

The bird proved to be very hard to approach as it was just flying around everywhere between the northern and southernmost gardens and even frequenting ditches. Svínoy is just too big for a single birder.

But well, if accepted it will be the first Hume’s Leaf Warbler for the Faroes.

Silas

Snow

Hvannasund

Hvannasund – view from the kitchen

Well, I closed the season on the last blog post, but there are still plenty of birds around in spite of the first snowfall in the mountains. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs are the most common migrants along with Redwings. But geese and Whooper Swans are also moving through.

Chiffchaff

Chiffchaff

 

Waxwing

Waxwing

A few days ago I found a Grey Wagtail in Tórshavn and today I found another one in Árnafirði. It is a rare but annual migrant here.

Grey Wagtail

Grey Wagtail

Yesterday I flushed a dunnock-type bird that gave very brief views at the same place. I got quite excited, but it turned out to be a Dunnock. So far I’ve found four Dunnocks, but still not Siberian Accentors. But when the winds turn easterly again in early November everything can happen!

Dunnock

Dunnock

There is also a significant arrival of Redpolls – most of which are pale and interesting.

Redpoll

Redpoll

 

And two days ago the Western Bonelli’s Warbler was still present, but today it was gone.

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Western Bonelli’s Warbler

Silas

End of an Era

Rene, Philip, Ragnar and I celebrating a Goldfinch!

Rene, Philip, Ragnar and I celebrating a Goldfinch!

Windy, almost stormy, rain, lack of light. Winter is coming. The last few days have been almost non-birdable. It is almost time to go into birding hibernation until march. Strong westerly winds have hit the islands and the few classic late eastern vagrants seem like a far-fetched dream currently.

Just when the Sibirean Accentors had made their way to Orkney, Shetland and Western Norway the winds changed. ‘Cause birds really do need some good tail winds to get out here – Shetland is only half the distance from Norway. But who knows. Maybe a bird or two have mad landfall just to show up in my garden later, when I decide to take a peek out the window?

But there are still birds around. Two days ago the Western Bonelli’s Warbler was still present and Ragnar managed to find a Goldfinch in Árnafirði a few days ago while another Goldfinch was in Viðareiði two days ago.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

There are also still plenty of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps – and Redpolls and Waxwings are around in really good numbers.

Redpoll in Klaksvík

Redpoll in Klaksvík

 

Redpoll in Klaksvík - could go as a Cous' Arctic in Denmark but not on the Faroes due to the Icelandic nightmare-complex of Redpolls

Redpoll in Klaksvík – could probably pass as a Coues’s Arctic in Denmark but not on the Faroes due to the Icelandic nightmare-complex of Redpolls

 

Mealy Redpoll in Hvalvík

Mealy Redpoll in Hvalvík

Yesterday a Little Egret was present Millum Fjarða. Always quite exotic here!

little-egret-d1

 

But I seriously doubt than we will have any more large arrivals of eastern migrants this autumn. And of course lack of birds means lack of effort and lack of effort means less birds and so on.

Waxwing

Waxwing

Winter is here. I’ve even caught my self watching gulls and ducks during the last few days. Winter is here. Two days ago Rodmund even went to Sandoy, where he found a male American Wigeon (probably returning bird) and a likely Coues’s Arctic Redpoll. Sure it is winter.

But this is birding and this is the Faroes. Maybe there is still a Blyth’s Pipit, a Siberian Accentor, Brown Shrike or a Pine Bunting out there to be found? Something has to be out there, but if it will be found is another question. Most likely not. But well, gulls and ducks are interesting too. And frankly this autumn has probably been the best autumn ever on the Faroes when it comes to numbers and the amount of rarities found! At least more than enough great birds to keep the mood going during the dark months ahead.

Silas

Danish visit


Mistle Thrush - curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Mistle Thrush – curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Three Danish lads, Ragnar, Philip and Rene, have been visiting the Faroes for the last week. They’ve been around most of the country and they’ve also found some quite good birds. The absolute rarities include a stunning Mistle Thrush and a mouth-watering Goldfinch. They also successfully twitched the Western Bonelli’s Warbler yesterday and they heard the bird call as Western.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

But the best bird they have found was a Siberian Stonechat at Hvalba a few days ago. It is the third record for the Faroes and a very nice and pale individual – which has a certain Stejneger’s feel to it.

Siberian Stonechat - curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Siberian Stonechat – curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

 

Siberian Stonechat - curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Siberian Stonechat – curtesy by Ragnar Smith and Philip Elbek

Yesterday I went birding for a while with the young lads and then they stayed at our home during the night. This morning we to the ferry to Svínoy (Silas and Ragnar) and Fugloy (Rene and Philip).

I was quite excited, ‘cause I really haven’t used much time on Fugloy. Obviously is has to be good, but there are just very few gardens, trees and shrubbery on the island. Well, it is perfect for Locustellas, Pipits and Buntings… but I do prefer Svínoy. But is it the right choice? It is like letting the Out Skerries unwatched.

But today Philip and Rene checked the island. 20+ Blackcaps is impressive, Song Thrush and House Martin. Quite good. And then: Little Bunting! The 5th for the Faroes and 3rd this autumn. Good job.

Little Bunting

Little Bunting

Ragnar and I checked Svínoy. About 15 Blackcaps, 6 Chiffchaffs including a tristis, 1 Brambling, 1 Chiffchaff and a few Robins weren’t too bad. But right upon arrival I heard a Richard’s Pipit call and I told Ragnar about it right away. After an hour or so Ragnar got decent views of a Richard’s Pipit on the center of the island. Nice! The 4th Richard’s Pipit for the Faroes!

We walked a lot to see if we could relocate the bird, but it was gone. 4 Long-tailed Ducks, a Grey Seal, two Fieldfares and a bunch of Redwings were the most exciting things.

But with both Richard’s and Little Bunting we were all kinda happy.

Silas

Nailed!

robin-b2

The Robin was still present in Kunoy


This morning I headed to Kunoy to see if I could nail the Bonelli’s Warbler. To do that there were two options. DNA or Call. Obviously DNA would not happen as I don’t have permission to mist-net birds. So I had to hear the bird.

I parked the car at the church and after 2 minutes I had relocated the bird. It really isn’t that hard when it is in a tree with hardly any leaves left on it. After a while it flew to the cemetery and I decided to do some video while playing Eastern and Western Bonelli’s Warbler. The result was interesting. The bird did not react at all while playing Eastern, but came within 3 meters distance when playing Western. I will link to a video later!

Western Bonelli's Warbler

Western Bonelli’s Warbler

But still the bird didn’t call. So I waited and waited. And all of a sudden… du-iiiippp. YES! Loud, long, deep, upturning and clear call. Surely a Western Bonelli’s Warbler! In total I have followed the bird for about 5 hours, and it only called on three occasions. But only one call and the time. So I didn’t manage to record it. But it is nailed! The first Western Bonelli’s Warbler for the Faroes!

Sheep were the only twitchers present and the Western Bonelli's Warbler

Sheep were the only twitchers present at the Western Bonelli’s Warbler

I wanted to raise money for homeless cats of Svínoy by asking all the twitchers to donate 10 Danish kroner. But only the local sheep seemed interested – so another national first goes by untwitched. Sorry for the non-existing homeless cats on Svínoy. I guess that it only happens on the Faroes (in Europe) that a national first is found without anyone trying to see it.

Today Fair Isle and Utsira got their Siberian Accentors. Many people have told me to find one. When Utsira can do it the Faroes can do it. We even rank higher on the fifa football list than Norway currently – so why not beat them with Siberian Accentors too? Maybe Atli, Geir and Frode should have become soccer players instead of birders! Oh, the days of Ole Gunnar and Ståle, lefser, gudbrandsdalsost, multebær and Tine Milk. Sometimes I miss Norway. But let’s see.

Today I also checked Àrnafirði, where I found a Dunnock and a Reed Bunting. When a Dunnock can turn up a Siberian Accentor could make the voyage too. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

In Klaksvík a flock of Redpolls was present including a nice pale individual.

Redpoll

Redpoll

Redpoll

Redpoll

Quite a few Waxwings are also present including 7 in my garden.

Waxwing

Waxwing

I have received quite a few comments on the wagtail, that Rodmund saw in Sørvágur. Due to the narrow wingbars and head pattern it could be an Eastern Yellow Wagtail type, but it seems that most everybody agrees that is in fact just another Citrine Wagtail.

wagtail-rak

Citrine Wagtail!? – Rodmund á Kelduni

Citrine Wagtail!? - photos by Rodmund á Kelduni

Citrine Wagtail!? – photos by Rodmund á Kelduni

Silas

Second chance!

 

 

The picture taken two days ago

The picture taken two days ago

Two days ago I talked to Rodmund on the phone while parked outside the plantation in Kunoy. All of a sudden I saw a small bird 20 meters from the car. I got bins on it shooottt… That was almost like a Wood Warbler with a shiny white breast and belly, but it was more light brown-greyish above. I ended the conversation and went out to look for it. It had flown into the plantation, where I managed to see it for 5 seconds in the canopy and I managed to get some crappy shots – look above.

Then it started to rain cats and dogs, and after searching for about 45 minutes and getting totally soaked I gave up. It was also getting dark at this point. But the bird really annoyed my, so when visiting Danish birder Ragnar Smith asked about the day’s birds I mentioned a “Retarted” warbler.  I was not happy with getting so short and bad views and after seeing the pictures I got of the bird I just got more annoyed. It was impossible to say anything.

So I checked again yesterday, but a kindergarten had decided to make a picnic in the plantation – so no birds. So I decided that it was probably just a weird tristis or late Willow Warbler.

Kunoy Plantation

Kunoy Plantation

But I couldn’t let the bird go. So I checked the plantation again today. Nothing. Then I checked the village, where a nice lady told me about a Robin, that had been standing right next to her while working in the garden. While birding around she called me from the distance. The Robin had returned – and great was the joy of seeing a Robin!

robin-a1

The ladies Robin

In the best garden in Kunoy they were slaughtering sheep. Bummer. So there was virtually just one undisturbed Willow Tree left – one next to the stream close by the church. I went there and boooommmmmmm. A Bonelli’s Warbler was right in front of me! Surely the same bird as two days earlier.

Bonelli's Warbler

Bonelli’s Warbler

It only stayed in the tree for 10 seconds before flying along the stream towards the plantation. I called Ragnar Smith, who is on Suðuroy, RoC in Denmark, just to know if call was 100% crucial and to get the bird news out, and of course Rodmund was informed.

Bonelli's Warbler

Bonelli’s Warbler

 

Bonelli's Warbler

Bonelli’s Warbler

 

Bonelli's Warbler

Bonelli’s Warbler

In the plantation the bird was easily relocated and it gave supreme views for about 10 minutes. It didn’t call, so I tried with play-back and it reacted very well on the call of Western Bonelli’s but not on Eastern at all. After 20 minutes it disappeared totally. But no calls were heard. I looked for about 30 minutes before checking the village again. Yup, there it was in a garden. This time I had it for about 30 minutes, but still no calls. So I tried play-back again with the same result. It started looking and came within 4 meters distance when playing Western (not Dolly Parton or Chris Kristofferson though), but didn’t react to Eastern at all.

Bonelli's Warbler

Bonelli’s Warbler

Plumage (as brown as it can get, 4 emarginations and a long p1 – comment by Steven Wytema ) combined with the birds reaction pattern makes this a most likely Western Bonelli’s Warbler and a nice addition to the Faroese list! But hopefully it will call tomorrow!

Silas

It happened!

Lesser Whitethroat

Lesser Whitethroat

After two days of very windy conditions today was calm. The forecast looked great with calm weather… but it was raining like in the days of Noah. Yet, I went out to check Eysturoy and parts of Streymoy.

I started with Syðrugøtu, Lamba, Rituvík and Æðuvík. 50+ Blackcaps, House Martin, lots of Chiffchaffs, Bramblings, a few Lesser Whitethroats and loads of Meadow Pipits… With these numbers present there had to be something good around.

Little Egret

Little Egret

In Hvalvik I found a Little Egret (probably one of three birds moving around). And the plantation was loaded with birds. 50+ Blackcaps, Pied Flycatcher, 20+ Redpolls, 2 Waxwings, Chiffchaffs and a few Redwings.

Pied Flycatcher with a quite white tail

Pied Flycatcher with a quite white tail

Then I checked Eiði before heading home – but it was more of the same. Good numbers of birds but no megas.

As I arrived at the kindergarden to pick up kid nr 2 and nr 3 (Carina and Set) I got a call from Morgan Boch – a visiting french birder. He had just found a Dusky Warbler 10 meters away from his tent at a camping site in Klaksvík while photographing Redpolls… Wow, a national first! When some french birders give up others have to take over (internal joke).

Dusky Warbler - first for the Faroes

Dusky Warbler – first for the Faroes

The kids were picked up in a hurry and the daily conversation with the kindergarten teachers was shortened a bit – we only covered the world situation, american politics and the sheep slaughter – then I rushed home where I left the kids with my wife. I only had a short time before sunset, so I was in a hurry.

Dusky Warbler - first for the Faroes

Dusky Warbler – first for the Faroes

I was lucky with the one-lane tunnels to Klaksvík and after 7 minutes I was úti í Grøv. Morgan had left the place, so I had to look on my own. I found a Redpoll, a Blackcap… and then above the plantation there was a small bird in the grass…

Dusky Warbler - first for the Faroes

Dusky Warbler – first for the Faroes

YES! There is was! A splendid Dusky Warbler. A national first. Right in the plantation, where I have been birding as a kid. Well, not quite in the plantation but above it in small newly planted trees.

It gave good views, but it was already getting dark and it was very cloudy. So the pictures could be better. But well, another national first in the book, so no complaints! This means that two of the most expected national firsts have been found during this autumn so far!

Yesterday Rodmund found a very grey 1cy Yellow Wagtail in Sørvágur. It looks interesting in terms of “Estern” types. Any comments are welcome.

Yellow Wagtail ssp?

Yellow Wagtail ssp? – Rodmund á Kelduni

Yellow Wagtail ssp?

Yellow Wagtail ssp? – Rodmund á Kelduni

Yellow Wagtail ssp?

Yellow Wagtail ssp? – Rodmund á Kelduni

Silas