Oyster Catcher, Faroes

 

Sitting in the wilds of the North Atlantic Ocean around halfway between Scotland and Iceland, it is perhaps no surprise that on the Faroe Islands the human population is massively outnumbered by birds. In fact the islands are considered one of Europe’s top destinations for bird watching enthusiasts.

Here are just a few of the more common birds you might expect to encounter on a visit to the Faroe Islands:

 

Puffins

This all-round favourite bird is plentiful in the Faroes, particularly on the westerly island of Mykines. Here, during the breeding season from April through to August, countless puffins can be seen making their nests and flying over the cliffs of the rugged island. It should be noted that the puffin’s popularity in the Faroe Islands is not restricted to the bird-watching community. It is also an integral part of the islands’ cuisine; don’t be alarmed to find puffin on the menu in many Faroese restaurants.

 

Oystercatcher

Locally called tjaldur, the oystercatcher is the national bird of the Faroe Islands.  Its English name is highly deceptive, as oysters do not make up any of the bird’s diet. Given its long red bill that is designed to break up tough molluscs, it is reasonable to assume it could break its way into an oyster shell if it had to. Their bright white underside make them very easy to spot in flight.

 

Kittiwakes

The most common type of gull in the world, kittiwakes are the noisy birds that can be found building their nests on the precarious ledges of vertical sea cliffs. In fact the small the ledge, the more likely it is that only the kittiwake will consider it a suitable location to build a home there.

 

Guillemots

Known as lomvigi in the Faroes, these cliff dwelling gulls are found in similar places to the kittiwake. You can watch guillemots floating on the sea before suddenly diving beneath the water to hunt for fish. In recent years their numbers have dropped due to a lack of food.

 

Arctic Skua 

One of the largest sea birds and the bully of the northern skies, the skua will attack other birds viciously until they release their prey. They are not averse to launching aerial bombardment of people who venture too close to their nests. While a human victim will survive a skua attack it is guaranteed to leave you with at least a headache.

 

Storm Petrels

A mission to spot storm petrels is one for the hardened bird enthusiast, as these birds only appear at night. Trips to visit storm petrel colonies can involve overnight stays in remote huts, with only a flask of tea (or something stronger) to keep warm. If you see the spectacular pictures of these birds flying in the dim twilight it’s easy to see why people do make such an effort to see them.
See here for an infographic about Bird Species in the Faroe Islands.