MIGRATION IN SOUTHERN SWEDEN WEEKENDFriday 4th September 2015
Friday 4th - Monday 7th September 2015
The group met at Luton at the very early time of 5.15am for our check in and once we had traversed the queues at security, we had some time for breakfast before boarding our flight to Copenhagen which landed on time in wet conditions.
Luckily for us the rain had stopped by the time we left the terminal but the sky towards Sweden was decidedly black! From the airport we took the very impressive Øresund Bridge over to Sweden and here the heavens opened and the rain torrential.
With the weather not looking so good, we opted to head straight to our accommodation to check in early but we had to wait a while for our rooms to be ready. Meanwhile we noted our first SPARROWHAWKS of the tour with a steady passage of TREE PIPITS, SWALLOWS and a few HOUSE MARTINS.
A small party of SISKINS flew southwest and COLLARED DOVE and WOOD PIGEON made their way onto the ever growing bird list.
Once our rooms were ready we unpacked briefly and made our way to one of our favourite destinations, Anna's Bakery! Whilst we were getting out of the van, a superb HONEY BUZZARD flew low over, along with a couple of SPARROWHAWKS.
With the early start we needed a coffee and sugar fix and there is no better place than Anna's for this and there are always a few birds to see also! Once we had sampled a few of the many cakes, we wandered into the wooded area at the back of the cafe.
Good numbers of warblers fed in the Silver Birches including WILLOW, CHIFFCHAFF and a very brief WOOD WARBLER. Both SPOTTED and PIED FLYCATCHERS were seen plus BLACKCAP heard and large skeins of BARNACLE GEESE were flying north.
Despite having cake, we headed to Skanor's Ljung (also known as the Heath) for a late lunch and over the next couple of hours we were treated to a good passage of raptors. SPARROWHAWKS were moving through and by the end of the day we had seen around 300 plus up to five OSPREYS, 40 HONEY BUZZARDS, COMMON BUZZARD, KESTREL and MARSH HARRIER.
A distant GREAT WHITE EGRET shimmered in the heat haze but one of the real treats was the number of SPOTTED and PIED FLYCATCHERS in the adjacent woodland. A couple of COMMON REDSTARTS were seen and it was great to watch TREE PIPITS on the ground rather than the usual flyovers.
Towards the end of the day and with things quietening down we drove to a shallow bay to see if any migrants had dropped in. The conditions were ideal and apart from the usual flocks of GREYLAG, CANADA and BARNACLE GEESE we searched our way through large numbers of TEAL, WIGEON, MALLARD, PINTAIL and SHOVELER with a few GOLDENEYE and TUFTED DUCK thrown in for good measure.
Waders included GREENSHANK, SPOTTED REDSHANK, LAPWING, GOLDEN PLOVER, DUNLIN of the larger, long-billed race arctica plus RINGED PLOVERS and RUFF.
A few SPARROWHAWKS were seen plus up to three MARSH HARRIERS, 10 HONEY BUZZARDS, OSPREY and a very distant WHITE-TAILED EAGLE in flight. Small numbers of both WHITE and YELLOW WAGTAILS were watched moving along the shore before it was time to pack up and head back to the hotel for a wash and brush up.
We met for a pre-dinner drink and to complete the bird list before enjoying a superb meal of Crayfish on toasted brioche, followed by Veal entrecôte with Artichoke, semi-dried tomatoes and Chanterelle mushrooms and we concluded with Chocolate Truffles and Raspberries which went down a treat.
It was great to retire to bed after what had been a very good but long day!
Saturday 5th September 2015
We awoke to find cloudy and damp conditions although it wasn't raining as we set off for a pre-breakfast jaunt down to Falsterbo Lighthouse. As we parked up, a few SPARROWHAWKS flew over and there was a steady passage of TREE PIPITS overhead.
The freshly cut greens of Falsterbo Golf Course attracted parties of wagtails including WHITE and a nice example of a winter plumaged male GREY-HEADED WAGTAIL of the race thunbergi.
Small flocks of WIGEON and TEAL moved south along the coast and with a brisk wind blowing, we took some shelter on the northern side of the Falsterbo Lighthouse. From here we watched SPARROWHAWKS moving through, hunting low over the golf course.
By now the sky was turning black so we made a hasty retreat back towards the van, only for the heavens to open and drench us. It was then back to the hotel for breakfast with a great range of hot and cold food which we certainly looked forward to after the early shower!
Afterwards we returned to Falsterbo Lighthouse and the sheltered spots harboured a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, WILLOW WARBLER, GREAT TIT and BLUE TITS.
The Lighthouse was open so a few took advantage of home-made Cinnamon Buns and Coffee (even after a big breakfast) whilst the others enjoyed the excellent exhibition within, showing bird migration.
Outside we spotted a few HONEY BUZZARDS coming our way and eventually they flew over and then another flock of around 15 birds moved off to the south and into a strong headwind. A cracking male PEREGRINE flew over us and a couple of SANDWICH TERNS moved down the coast.
We took a walk down to Nabben where the coastal lagoons held a few GREENSHANK, REDSHANK, BAR-TAILED GODWIT, CURLEW, RINGED PLOVER and DUNLIN and the open water held good numbers of GOLDENEYE plus WIGEON, TEAL and PINTAIL. A roosting flock of SANDWICH TERNS were good to see and several parties of ARCTIC TERNS kept low to the waves as they left their summer home of Scandinavia and headed south to the Antarctic.
The sky to the southwest looked ominous and once again we made a quick retreat, which was ten minutes too late and we got caught for our second soaking of the day!
With the weather not looking promising we visited the annual Falsterbo Bird Show, which attracts good numbers of Swedish birders plus locals with an interest in nature. After spending some time wandering around the stands, we headed to Anna's Bakery for a spot of lunch which we enjoyed in the garden.
Afterwards a wander round the gardens produced BLACKCAP, WILLOW WARBLER, ROBIN, SPOTTED FLYCATCHER and a few CHIFFCHAFF before we decided to head inland for the afternoon.
We drove through more torrential rain, but luckily this had stopped by the time we arrived and a beautiful rainbow over the adjacent hills made a good photo opportunity. Our first RED KITES of the tour were seen drifting over the woods. A juvenile female GOSHAWK was then spotted being hassled by RAVENS before it turned and attacked the RAVEN in return.
With skies clearing, the sunshine encouraged more raptors into the air including COMMON BUZZARD plus a very pale individual known locally as a "Borringe" Buzzard. Steve spotted a distant BLACK KITE which promptly disappeared but we did have prolonged views of an adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE that eventually flew right past us.
A couple of WHINCHATS were seen in nearby fields and a scan over the woods saw a steady movement of HONEY BUZZARDS taking place.
With time getting on we visited a lake that held large numbers of GREYLAG GEESE plus COMMON SANDPIPER, GREY WAGTAIL, a juvenile PEREGRINE and OSPREY plus large numbers of Hirundines. There was a passage of COMMON GULLS taking place and the calm sheltered waters of the northern part of the lake produced GADWALL, MALLARD, SHOVELER and many POCHARD and TUFTED DUCK.
We left the site and drove back towards base but didn't get very far when a HOBBY flew past and then in the distance a sub-adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE was spotted which positively shone in the afternoon sunlight. A large flock of RAVENS frequented a harvested field and both RED KITE and MARSH HARRIER were seen nearby.
Making a stop at a local supermarket proved fruitful and Graham and Ian found a MISTLE THRUSH and around 12 FIELDFARE in a Mountain Ash tree. Just as we were leaving, a juvenile HOBBY powered through to the south.
We arrived back at the hotel slightly later than planned and once again met for a pre-dinner drink before enjoying our evening meal. This started with Monkfish with King Oyster mushroom, Pak Choi and White Wine sauce followed by Tarte Tatin using a local Swedish variety of Apple with salted Almonds, toffee sauce and butter Ice-cream.
Leaving the table rather full up, we headed off to bed hoping that the weather would improve for the following day.
Sunday 6th September 2015
The weather had improved vastly with sunny spells, but a very brisk northerly wind made viewing slightly more challenging. We once again headed for a pre-breakfast visit to Falsterbo Lighthouse but it soon became apparent that it was much quieter bird-wise than in previous days.
Small groups of TREE PIPITS flew out to sea and on the golf course, we watched a mixed flock of WHITE and YELLOW WAGTAILS of which the majority were of the Blue-headed race Flava, with a couple of male Grey-headed of the race thunbergi.
A few SPARROWHAWKS zipped through and out to sea a very distant GUILLEMOT flew north and SANDWICH TERNS moved south. Scanning down to the point at Nabben produced a small flock of DARK-BELLIED BRENT GEESE that landed just offshore.
It was soon time to head back for breakfast and as we wandered across the golf course, a COMMON BUZZARD battled its way out into the strong wind.
The shelter of the hotel was very welcome and once again we tucked into a great selection of food and drink and once suitably refreshed we returned to the Lighthouse area. We parked up and would you believe it, the heavens opened and there was a spell of prolonged rain, even when it wasn't forecast!
We made the decision to head to an area to the northeast of Malmo which took just over an hour on the motorway. As we pulled off onto a back road we spotted an immature WHITE-TAILED EAGLE drifting over, plus 7 WHITE STORKS moving westwards which was a real treat.
A few minutes later we arrived at one of the main birding sites which yielded up to 30 COMMON CRANES in amongst thousands of GREYLAG GEESE plus MARSH HARRIER, KESTREL and COMMON BUZZARDS that were patrolling the skies. On the opposite side of the road we overlooked the massive lake of Vombsjon and taking shelter down the bank got us out of the wind and when the sun shone it was quite pleasant.
A large flock of GREAT CRESTED GREBES were noted and a scan across the water produced COMMON, ARCTIC and BLACK TERNS dipping and feeding. Annette found a nice flock of GOOSANDER roosting on the shore along with RUFF, COMMON SANDPIPER, LAPWING and GREENSHANK. Raptors included two more WHITE-TAILED EAGLES, PEREGRINE, RED KITE, SPARROWHAWK and COMMON BUZZARDS.
By now everyone was starting to get peckish so we tried to find somewhere to eat and eventually came across a wonderful nursery that sold great sandwiches, salads and cakes.
We then moved to a new site to the south which consisted of a large area of wet meadows and here we had great views of around 50 more COMMON CRANES. There were loads more GREYLAG GEESE and on the wet pools we found five WOOD SANDPIPERS and five SPOTTED REDSHANKS.
Our last port of call was a nearby lake where from the impressive tower hide we found four superb adult CASPIAN TERNS plus an adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE, OSPREY and on the open water were quite a few GADWALL.
With the strong wind starting to be a nuisance, we took a walk along a track in the hope of finding some passerines and this worked with a couple of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS feeding in a small tree. Ian found a YELLOWHAMMER perched up on a telegraph pole and a couple of HOBBIES zipped past at great speed.
On our return leg, Steve spotted a BLACK WOODPECKER flying across the field and although it was quite brief, fortunately most of the group got onto it. Despite a good search it failed to show again so with time getting on, it was time to head back to base.
We made quite good time and detoured down to the Falsterbo Canal which found us three immature male EIDER before we headed to the hotel for a shower before dinner.
Sunday was the chef’s night off at the hotel and so we made a short drive to a restaurant where we enjoyed a great meal which really filled us up. We arrived back and headed off to bed, looking forward to our last day of the trip and birding in Sweden.
Monday 7th September 2015
We opted to miss a pre-breakfast walk and have an early breakfast so we could head out to Nabben, as the weather was much improved from the previous day. After a filling breakfast, we drove down to the carpark to find a slight northwesterly breeze and clear conditions.
SPARROWHAWKS were very much in evidence and there were quite a few YELLOW and WHITE WAGTAILS on the short turf on the golf course, plus two CARRION CROWS with the HOODED CROWS. Taking a stroll down to the Lighthouse it soon became apparent that there was a good migration of COMMON BUZZARDS taking place, with several flocks of around 20 birds battling their way out across the Øresund Strait towards Denmark. A small party of TREE SPARROWS flew over and other passerines included SISKIN, LINNET, REED BUNTING, GREY WAGTAILS and lots of TREE PIPITS.
On the sea we found several COMMON EIDER with a female COMMON SCOTER and four LONG-TAILED DUCKS powered northwards into the wind.
Out on the sandbanks of Maklappen, a couple of immature WHITE-TAILED EAGLES sat resting and a MERLIN zoomed through very quickly. A flock of around 30 KNOT were seen distantly out on the sandbanks and GREENSHANK, GOLDENEYE, WHEATEAR and a couple of GOLDEN PLOVER were seen on the pools in front of us.
More COMMON BUZZARDS were watched drifting over us and included some very pale birds that did good impressions of Rough-legged Buzzards. We decided to change position and visit the mound at Kolobacken, the site of the first Falsterbo Lighthouse in the 1630's.
More SPARROWHAWKS and COMMON BUZZARDS drifted over and then Steve picked up a ringtail harrier moving through, that when viewed through the scope was a juvenile PALLID HARRIER. It was moving quite fast and soon disappeared from view and a few minutes later it was recorded leaving Sweden at Nabben.
A few minutes later we found a stunning male HEN HARRIER flying over us and then a MARSH HARRIER flew past giving us three harrier species in 10 minutes. Another WHEATEAR was noted on the golf practice ground and a LESSER WHITETHROAT skulked in a rose bush.
We left the site and popped into the hotel to pick up our luggage before loading the van and heading to the Heath to see if any more migration was taking place. There were around 30 birders present when we arrived so we set up amongst them and soon were watching even more COMMON BUZZARDS plus SPARROWHAWKS and three WHITE-TAILED EAGLES. Large numbers of YELLOW WAGTAILS moved through low down avoiding the marauding SPARROWHAWKS passing westwards.
By now our stomachs were rumbling so we made our last stop at Anna's Bakery, tucked into open sandwiches and Ian bought everyone a cake to celebrate his birthday! The food was absolutely delicious and we washed it down with plenty of coffee to keep us going through the day as we had a late return to the UK.
We headed inland to look for more raptors and making a quick diversion to an area of fish ponds yielded a cracking summer plumaged RED-NECKED GREBE plus LITTLE GREBES, GADWALL, SNIPE and three juvenile MARSH HARRIERS that were hunting the embankment.
With the weather bright and sunny we found a sheltered position and within seconds found a juvenile female GOSHAWK with RED KITE, SPARROWHAWK and COMMON BUZZARD all in the same view. The Goshawk was seen tussling with a COMMON BUZZARD before flying off, where it tried to hunt LAPWINGS over the fields.
A scan of the fence posts produced a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE which showed well and in the background we caught a glimpse of a juvenile harrier that just had to be a Pallid Harrier but it disappeared across the road and couldn't be relocated. How frustrating!
Around 10 minutes later Ian spotted a distant harrier which turned out to be the juvenile PALLID HARRIER hunting passerines over a harvested corn field, where its agility was amazing as it twisted and turned. It was constantly mobbed by the local HOODED CROWS and eventually disappeared from view.
Other species seen here included a male REDSTART, WHINCHAT, RAVEN and both FALLOW and ROE DEER were seen. A couple of GOLDEN EAGLES were spotted very distantly but they dropped over the woods and vanished. More visible were up to four WHITE-TAILED EAGLES plus seven COMMON CRANES that were seen soaring over the area, making a fine sight indeed.
Reluctantly it was time to head to the airport in Copenhagen and once again we took the Øresund Bridge to the west where the views were magnificent. After unpacking and dropping off the van we had some time to check in and relax before the flight.
Unfortunately, due to air traffic restrictions throughout the day the flight was running around 30 minutes behind schedule, but the pilot who was a real character and very comical made up time and we landed only 15 minutes behind schedule. He kept us entertained and said that the plane used half a mile to the gallon in fuel when we were travelling at 500mph and it was a good job he wasn't paying for the fuel himself.
After getting our luggage we said our goodbyes after what had been a great weekend, with great birding, food and company throughout!