<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Avian Adventures Tour reports
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Sweden - Falsterbo & Öland, 27th September to 5th October 2003

Day 1: Saturday 27th September

Our morning flight from Birmingham arrived in Copenhagen at around 10.45 a.m.  Here we were met by our guide Dr P-G Bentz and driven via tunnel and bridge into Sweden and to the Falsterbo peninsula.

After lunch we settled into our rooms at the Spelabäcken Hotel and then had a brief look at the peninsula, but it was very windy and so we spent the afternoon touring various sites in the province of Skåne.

Most notable amongst the birds seen were the many Red Kites, Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawks that occurred in good numbers almost everywhere we went.  Other raptors noted were Common Kestrels, Marsh Harriers, Hen Harriers, Merlin and Osprey.

We also saw many finch flocks and whilst these comprised mainly Chaffinches and Greenfinches, we also had great views of colourful Bramblings and Siskins.  Wildfowl included many Greylag Geese, a handful of Greater White-fronts and just one Barnacle Goose, numerous Mallard, about forty Gadwall and a few Wigeon and Pintail.
After an excellent evening meal P-G gave a very informative and well illustrated presentation about Falsterbo, the bird observatory and the birds.                                      

Day 2: Sunday 28th September

A single Blue Tit in the garden of the hotel during breakfast was the first bird of the day.  At the time it didn't appear to be of great significance, but it proved to be the first of thousands of this species seen during the day as flocks of them streamed through the Falsterbo peninsula.  The official count, we learned later, was 30,600 and of these 1,954 were trapped and ringed at the lighthouse.

Falsterbo Lighthouse

Falsterbo Lighthouse

P-G Bentz/Sturnus.

At the same time, thousands of Chaffinches, Bramblings, Greenfinches and Tree Sparrows passed by.  Several Wood Larks and a Spotted Nutcracker were among the other birds seen passing overhead as we stood at the south-west point (Nabben) in the company of two hundred or more other birders - Swedes, Danes, Germans, Dutch, Norwegians and Belgians.  At times it was possible to take a break from watching this amazing spectacle by turning round and watching the wildfowl, gulls, terns and waders that were behind us - among them Goldeneye, Red-breasted Merganser, Brent Geese, Sandwich Terns and Spotted Redshank.  There was also a short period when a stream of maybe a thousand Great Cormorants passed by.

When eventually the passage of birds slowed down a little we had a look into the observatory garden and found Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Chiffchaff.  Then as the temperature rose it was time to concentrate on raptors and we drove the short distance to an excellent vantage point at Skanörs Ljung (“the Heath”).  Just as yesterday there were countless Red Kites, Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawks to be seen and we settled down with our picnic lunch to watch them pass overhead.  One or two Marsh Harriers and a Rough-legged Buzzard were also seen and two magnificent White-tailed Eagles dwarfed everything else.  At the same time at ground level there was a flock of fifty or so Meadow Pipits and several Northern Wheatears.  Barn Swallows were also going through in numbers.

Spotted Nutcracker

Spotted Nutcracker

P-G Bentz/Sturnus.

In the afternoon we visited a succession of other sites around the peninsula, always watching the sky and usually as a result seeing more raptors.  Highlights of the afternoon included at least eleven more Spotted Nutcrackers, a Merlin, well over five hundred Mute Swans and about two hundred and fifty Barnacle Geese.

Day 3: Monday 29th September

A grey overcast start to the day with the wind from the north-east and we went again to Nabben to see whether any birds were on the move.  Once again there were plenty of finches, Blue Tits and Tree Sparrows, but nothing like the numbers seen yesterday.  There were also flocks of Wood Pigeons and Song Thrushes passing over.  At the observatory a lot of birds were still being ringed and we saw both Chiffchaff and Reed Warbler in the hand and Winter Wren and Common Redstart caught in mist nets.  Raptors were few, but Common Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were both recorded.  There were more waders than yesterday and new species were Little Stint, Oystercatcher, Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot and Sanderling.

The weather gradually deteriorated, getting colder and starting to rain, so the decision was made to leave Falsterbo and go on a tour of the Skåne province.  Collecting our picnic lunch on the way, we headed out of town and along the coast, through Trelleborg.  Just before reaching Ystad we turned north to Lake Krageholmssjon, a breeding site of White-tailed Eagle.  Only minutes after arriving there we found an adult eagle perched in a tree across the water.  Goldeneye, Great Crested Grebes, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Wigeon were also on the lake and many Barn Swallows were feeding.

We took our lunch to a very nice wooded valley, but it was so wet that there was little option other than to sit in our vehicle to eat. Fortunately we were cheered up by the presence of two adult Golden Eagles sitting in a dead tree. Their activity was clearly being limited by the weather as was ours.

Common Buzzard

Common Buzzard

P-G Bentz/Sturnus.

We returned to a lake we had visited on Saturday and climbed an observation tower that gave good views over a wide area, but again failed to see the Bearded Tits that were 'pinging' in the reeds below.  As before the weather was not in our favour.  It scarcely stopped raining all day and we were forced to make the best of it that we could.  However, by 4.30 p.m. we were ready to quit and headed back to our hotel.  On the way we made a brief visit to the White Stork captive breeding project.  Other highlights of the day were Common Raven, several Ruff on a field with Common Gulls, Lapwing and Golden Plover, several flocks of Greylag Geese one of which had two or three Greater White-fronts, a Common Redstart, a late Arctic Tern and numerous finch and Tree Sparrow flocks.  Several Kestrels and Common Buzzards were seen sitting on posts and power cables; a few Red Kites were seen flying.

Day 4: Tuesday 30th September

A lovely clear bright sunny morning and once again we began the day with a trip to the tip of the peninsula where once again there were many Blue Tits, Chaffinches, Bramblings, Tree Sparrows and Greenfinches in evidence.  Although numbers were nothing like as high as they had been on Sunday, the word from the observatory was that they were catching more birds than they could cope with.

We spent an hour or so looking through wildfowl and waders, but eventually had to drag ourselves away to begin the long journey to Öland.  As we walked back to the vehicle two Red Kites and a Common Buzzard were the first raptors of the day.

So, somewhat reluctantly, we said good bye to P-G and set off for Öland.  The trip was quite straightforward, mainly along the E22 and with little traffic.  We stopped for lunch at Norje, where we found Marsh Tit and Treecreeper as we stretched our legs in a small wood by the roadside.

Having settled into our rooms at Gammalsbygården Inn we were joined by Christian Cederroth and Cecilia Johansson, local guides for our stay in Öland.  They quickly whisked us off to their home at Segerstads lighthouse about 20 minutes away, a journey that included negotiating a very rough track from the main road down to the coast.  Here we were very fortunate to re-locate a Booted Warbler that had first been found a couple of days earlier. With a relatively short bill and distinct supercilium, it had already been identified as being of the race caligata, but looked almost as much like a Phylloscopus as a Hippolais.  As we watched the warbler, flocks of Common Eiders flew south over the sea and in the lighthouse garden there were numerous Goldcrests.

Day 5: Wednesday 1st October

A flock of twenty six Common Cranes flew over and landed in a nearby field while we were waiting for Christian and Cecilia outside the hotel.  Our guides arrived with the news that the Booted Warbler appeared to have departed overnight, but that Cecilia had fund a Bluethroat in its place.  After some discussion we decided to leave the Bluethroat for later and stick with our plan to drive down to Ottenby at the southern-most tip of the island.  On the way, as we stopped to check a field with Lapwings and Golden Plovers, an immature White-tailed Eagle flew over.

At Ottenby there was the kind of seawatching one dreams of.  Passing flocks of Eiders, Brent and Barnacle Geese, lots of Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers and a variety of other ducks and waders were just the backdrop for Black-throated Divers, Velvet Scoters, two Merlins, a Peregrine, an adult White-tailed Eagle, Caspian Gull and a fuscus Lesser-Black-back (Baltic Gull).

When we moved the short distance for a view in a different direction there were Common Shelducks, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Curlew and four more White-tailed Eagles!

When we set out on a short walk, we very soon came across a Great Grey Shrike and in no time we were watching it dismantle a Blue Tit.  Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were in the same tree.  Only minutes later, while we were having a short coffee break, what was probably a second Great Grey Shrike appeared close by and a small flock of nine Bean Geese passed over.

Next we set out for a walk along the shoreline.  A Pectoral Sandpiper had been reported the previous day and in a matter of only a few minutes Cecilia had located it with some Dunlin and a Little Stint.  We soon found more Dunlin and with them a Curlew Sandpiper and a Sanderling.

We drove a short distance to a picnic site to eat our lunch.  Here a Yellowhammer took food from us and was incredibly tame; perhaps thinking it was safe when with us from the attentions of the four Sparrowhawks that circled above.



P-G Bentz/Sturnus.

After lunch we set off back north making several stops on the way.  The first of these was when we spotted a large finch flock some distance across a field.  These proved to be Bramblings and there must have been at least five thousand of them.  Yet another White-tailed Eagle could be seen in the distance.  Another adult White-tailed Eagle was seen later, further up the coast where we stopped looking for pipits and shorebirds.  We did manage to get good views of a Rock Pipit along with several Meadow Pipits and there were plenty of Dunlin and a Greenshank, but a Lapland Bunting, identified only by its call note as it passed overhead, eluded us.

Eventually we arrived at Christian and Cecilia's home where after a brief search the Bluethroat was relocated more or less where Cecilia had seen it this morning.  We enjoyed the most wonderful close views of the bird as it made its way along the same fence line where we had seen the Booted Warbler yesterday.

Eventually we set off for a brief tour of the lighthouse garden and it was only a few minutes before we flushed a Long-eared Owl and again finished up with excellent telescope views.  This really was a great finish to a great days birding, enjoyed in mainly sunny, if at times chilly, conditions.

Day 6: Thursday 2nd October

Christian joined us after breakfast and we made the long journey from our hotel, situated almost at the southern end of Öland, to the Lônge Erik Lighthouse, beyond Byxelkrok, at the northern tip of the island.  Almost everywhere we went during the day there were Robins and there had clearly been a major influx overnight.

Our first stop on the way was to look at a flock of about two hundred and thirty Common Cranes in a roadside field, birds that would soon be flying south for the winter.  Next we stopped at Stenåsabadet and spent an hour or so searching the trees and bushes on a campsite.  There were scores of Robins and Goldcrests, but amongst them we managed to find a very late Pied Flycatcher which appeared to be feeding on berries.  We climbed an observation tower that gave views along the coast and a distant White-tailed Eagle could be seen on a stone wall.  Just as we were about to leave, a Pallas's Warbler was found and this prolonged our stay by another hour as we tried to get decent views of it.  It was an extremely mobile bird but eventually we were all satisfied.  Just as the Pied Flycatcher was late; this was a rather early date for Pallas's Warbler.

Our next stop was for coffee at Kapelludden.  Here we walked in the garden of yet another lighthouse, but there were disappointingly few birds.  Along the shore there were Dunlin and Golden Plover and two Little Stints.

We continued our journey to Byxelkrok and beyond, stopping only three times for roadside birds - a Rough-legged Buzzard, a Jay and a Great Grey Shrike.  Later, as we ate our picnic at the northern tip of Öland, four Crossbills flew around calling loudly, Marsh Tits were found nearby and an adult White-tailed Eagle could be seen perched on a distant rock.

After lunch we took a walk by the Lônge Erik lighthouse where again there were lots of Robins and Goldcrests and we found a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A Goosander was the first of the trip and on the way back to the car park a Whooper Swan was found. 

It was raining when we started our drive 'home' but by the time we reached Sandby it had all but stopped and we enjoyed a walk along the shore in the evening sun.  Dunlin and Grey Plovers were seen as well as three or four Greenshank.  A flock of fifty or so Greenfinches was flushed and again there were plenty of Robins and Goldcrests.

Day 7: Friday 3rd October

Cecilia joined us after breakfast with the news that Christian had found a Red-breasted Flycatcher in the garden only twenty minutes before, but as with the Bluethroat, we decided to take a chance and leave it until later.  Sticking to our original plan, we drove down to Ottenby lighthouse where many birders were already gathered.  Although it had been quite misty for most of the journey, the southern end of the island was quite clear, the sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning.

The first bird to get our attention immediately we were out of the vehicle was a Peregrine Falcon, sitting on the ground with its back to us.  As we looked across the water towards it, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers and many other ducks and gulls went about there business seemingly unconcerned about the killing machine in their midst. 

Around the lighthouse and its garden were the now usual mix of Goldcrests, Blue Tits and Robins and we spent a while searching through them for something different.  One or two Chiffchaffs were found and later a Coal tit, but there was to be no excitement here this morning. Before leaving we spent some time right at the tip of the island watching a similar selection of birds to the ones we had seen earlier in the week, including one or two Black-throated Divers flying by.

Our plan today was to look at several sites on the western side of Öland and we started at Ventlinge.  Here we saw White-tailed Eagle and several Crossbills flew overhead as we walked towards a small pinewood.  Unfortunately the Crossbills could not be relocated but we watched a flock of Chaffinches plus Robins and a couple of Song Thrushes on an adjacent field and it still seemed strange to see a dozen Robins feeding together.

Next we visited a property apparently owned by a motor club.  The fields here held fifty or more Skylarks and flocks of Linnets, but the woods were very quiet and we didn't stay too long.  As we drove away we flushed a Green Sandpiper from a rather smelly pool by the roadside.

Next stop was at Vasterstadsvicken where a Dunlin and seven Ruff were quite close, a flock of thirty five Spotted Redshanks were more distant, and even further away were five hundred or so Golden Plovers.

At Morbylånga reningsverk (sewage ponds) a group of Swedish birders were looking for a Ruddy Duck that had been reported.  We did get a very brief glimpse of an odd looking bird that wasn't immediately identifiable, but it clearly wasn't a Ruddy Duck and appeared to be a hybrid of some kind.  We also saw Tufted Ducks, about half a dozen Little Grebes and our first Swedish Moorhen, but by now we were overdue for some food.

We ate lunch at Beijershamn where hundreds of Greylag Geese were along the shore and on the sea.  A Rough-legged Buzzard was watched soaring and hovering over the forest and the sound of an apparent altercation between two Black Woodpeckers came from the trees.  As we looked to get a view of the woodpeckers our attention was caught instead by a Sparrowhawk caught up in a dispute with a couple of Jays.  After lunch we drove to the Naturbokhandeln (nature book shop) at Stenhusa Gård, where we enjoyed half an hour browsing their excellent selection of bird books.

Finally we drove to Segerstads fyr, Christian and Cecilia's home, where we saw the Red-breasted Flycatcher within seconds of arriving.  We stood and watched as it apparently picked prey items off the lighthouse wall.  It was a first calendar year bird and very obliging.

With this going on, Cecilia told us something of the history of the lighthouse and showed us stones and fossils from the area.
Eventually there was the opportunity to climb to the top of the twenty-two metre lighthouse an excellent seawatching vantage point from which a flock of fifty Brent Geese was seen.

Later after dinner, Christian showed us some slides, many of them depicting Segerstads in very wintry conditions that were hard to imagine having seen it on such a wonderful sunny day.

Day 8: Saturday 4th October

We began the day seawatching at Segerstads fyr having received an early phone call from Cecilia to say that many birds were moving south.  The conditions were ideal, an on shore easterly wind and 100% cloud so that although we were looking east the light was excellent.

Red-breasted Mergansers, Eiders, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Black Scoters went through, flock after flock, totalling several hundred birds.  Smaller numbers of Goldeneye, Teal, Pintail, Greater Scaup, Velvet Scoter, Brent Geese and Pochard also went past.  On the sea a Red-necked Grebe was identified and both Black-throated and Red-throated Divers were seen; a White-tailed Eagle also went through.  After an hour and a half or so the numbers of birds decreased as the rain started and got heavier, so we decided to check the lighthouse garden.  We soon found the Red-breasted Flycatcher that we had watched late yesterday, but otherwise it was Robins and Goldcrests and not much else.

Next we drove down to Ottenby, stopping twice on the way.  The first time was for two Rough-legged Buzzards one either side of the road and the second time for a flock of five hundred or so Golden Plovers that had about ten Ruff with them.
At Ottenby the scene was very different to that we had experienced earlier in the week.  Now it being Saturday, there were literally hundreds of birders braving the rain to look for a Pallas's Warbler and a Firecrest.  We saw both eventually, the latter giving itself up first to a Heligoland trap and then a mist net as we watched.

We sheltered in the 'Naturum' for a while enjoying a number of interesting and unusual exhibits before heading down to the point to see a Purple Sandpiper.

For lunch we drove back to the same picnic site we had used on Wednesday and then took a walk in the nearby woodland.  Another White-tailed Eagle flew over as we set off.  There were relatively few birds in the wood, but we did find several Song Thrushes, Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and the only Redwing of the trip.

Next we found ourselves involved in something of a twitch after Cecilia received word of a Buff-breasted Sandpiper just north of Össby.  The bird flew almost as we arrived, but was soon relocated and we had reasonable views of it across a roadside field.  From there we went to the little harbour at Gräsgård Hamn where we checked the few gardens, but found little but Goldcrests and Robins.  From the harbour we saw two White-tailed Eagles sat side by side on a rock and found two Caspian Gulls among the many Herring Gulls.  We finished the day returning to Össby where a real twitch was in progress.  The bird was a rather mobile and elusive Yellow-browed Warbler which we all saw reasonably well eventually, but being in a crowd of about eighty birders who were giving directions to the bird in Swedish wasn't ideal!

Day 9: Sunday 5th October

After breakfast Christian and Cecilia took us to Ottenby for our final mornings birding.  We spent an hour or more at the southern edge of the lund (woodland) where a steady stream of migrant passerines was passing through.  Many Blue Tits and Great Tits were involved but also one or two small flocks of Coal Tits and one party of about twenty white-headed Long-tailed Tits.  There were also lots of finches - Chaffinches, Bramblings, Linnets, Siskins and also about a dozen Hawfinches.  A couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers arrived in a tree close to where we were standing, followed a few moments later by a Treecreeper.  Birds passing overhead included several Woodlarks and Christian also identified the call of a Little Bunting which unfortunately we were able to watch only as it flew into the distance.  We were only a short way from the shore and both Black-throated and Red-throated Divers were identified flying south.  With so many small birds on the move it was no surprise that a Sparrowhawk appeared at regular intervals.

When the migration slowed down we went down to Ottenby Lighthouse and were very fortunate to have really close views of a Pallas's Warbler in a tree that had a few leaves making the bird easy to locate.  Presumably it was the same bird that we saw yesterday, but now we could really see it in detail.

There had been talk of a possible Black Brant down at the point but we could find only four geese there and they were certainly regulation Brents.  It was no surprise to find another Caspian Gull sitting on the rocks.

As we returned to the car park, two White-tailed Eagles flew by disturbing the flocks of ducks and this helped us find several Greater Scaup among the Tufties and Goldeneye.  As we loaded the vehicle a Peregrine Falcon was the last bird seen.

On the way north, we stopped for a quick look at a Rough-legged Buzzard before returning to Gräsgård Hamn.  Here we spent an hour or so walking coastal fields, climbing over walls and fences, looking for pipits and buntings.  It was enjoyable, but unfortunately we found only a Northern Wheatear, a Snipe, Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Linnets ....and of course, another White-tailed Eagle.

After a pleasant lunch back at Gammalsbygården Inn we started heading for home.  About twenty Common Cranes were seen on our way to the bridge that leads back to the mainland and by 3.00 p.m. we were at the tiny airport at Kalmar ready for our flight to Copenhagen and then Birmingham.

Thanks are due to Swedish Active Holidays for ground arrangements and to guides Dr P.G Bentz, Christian Cederroth and Cecilia Johansson.

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