Saturday 2nd September 2017
SOUTHERN SWEDEN – AUTUMN MIGRATION
Saturday 2nd – Tuesday 5th September 2017
We all met at the frightful hour of 4.30am to check in for our flight to Copenhagen which took off on schedule and arrived at a sunny Copenhagen around fifteen minutes early.
After sorting out the vehicles, we headed over the magnificent Oresund Bridge to Sweden, noting quite a few GREAT CORMORANTS and GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS along the way.
Heading south towards Trelleborg produced our first two WHITE-TAILED EAGLES of the tour circling over the motorway and a short time later, we pulled off the road at Anna’s Bakery for a much needed caffeine fix with the added extra of a delicious cake to accompany it!
Whilst sitting in the garden we watched small numbers of EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS drifting overhead and although quite high, their profile was quite different to COMMON BUZZARDS nearby.
TREE PIPITS and WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS flew over and after we were suitably refreshed, we drove the short distance to Skanörs Ljung (the Heath) where we set up camp amongst the many other birders present.
The majority of birds seen were COMMON BUZZARDS with several flocks of around 20 birds each, whilst EUROPEAN SPARROWHAWKS were very much in evidence as they headed southwestwards on their migration. Another couple of WHITE-TAILED EAGLES were seen with the addition of RED KITE, WESTERN OSPREY, COMMON KESTRELS and a couple of WESTERN MARSH HARRIERS.
Flocks of WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS fed amongst the highland cattle and were seen when flushed by a passing EUROPEAN SPARROWHAWK. A couple of COMMON GREENSHANK flew north and a GREEN SANDPIPER was flushed by a walker out on the Heath.
After a while raptor passage quietened down so we took a walk around the silver birches bordering the Heath and were delighted to find good numbers of SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, WILLOW WARBLERS and several lucky members of the group recorded WOOD WARBLER.
With the early morning start catching up with us, we spent the remainder of the afternoon at Lilla Hammars näs, an area of land with shallow water adjacent to it. As we parked the vehicles, up to nine WHINCHATS perched up along the fenceposts.
Bushes around the farm held a small flock of EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS and BARN SWALLOWS fed low over the fields giving us all good views. More WHINCHATS frequented the rough fields with around 8 additional birds seen.
A cracking juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE perched on posts and five NORTHERN WHEATEARS were added to our lists. On the water we watched many BARNACLE & GREYLAG GEESE plus EURASIAN WIGEON, COMMON TEAL, MALLARD, GADWALL and NORTHERN PINTAIL.
Waders were well represented with RUFF, COMMON GREENSHANK, GOLDEN PLOVER, COMMON SNIPE, EURASIAN CURLEW and a couple of COMMON RINGED PLOVER that flew over calling.
Another RED-BACKED SHRIKE showed well on close fenceposts and more WHINCHATS were spotted along with NORTHERN WHEATEARS. A first-year male COMMON REDSTART was a nice surprise as it perched up in the corner of the field and although not close it was certainly good to see.
It was then time to head to our hotel where we checked in with some time to rest before meeting for our evening meal, which went down well after a very long day.
Sunday 3rd September 2017
Some of the group spent time around the accommodation after first light and the air was full of calls of TREE PIPITS, WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS and quite a few RED CROSSBILLS.
EURASIAN SPARROWHAWKS powered their way through and a single EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARD made its way west. A WHINCHAT was a nice surprise as it perched on an aerial only to be replaced by a EURASIAN COLLARED DOVE!
Breakfast was a hearty affair with lots to choose from and we certainly had a feast!
Afterwards we headed the short distance down to Falsterbo Lighthouse and the walk across the golf course produced stacks of WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS feeding on the newly-cut greens. EURASIAN SPARROWHAWKS kept passing overhead as they made their way out over the sea towards Denmark and some were distracted by all the passerines.
We spent time around the lighthouse where bird ringers showed EUROPEAN ROBIN, LESSER WHITETHROAT and GOLDCREST to the onlookers.
One of the highlights was a hunting juvenile EURASIAN HOBBY, feeding on MIGRANT HAWKER DRAGONFLIES just in front of us and it showed superbly! Several dark-phase juvenile EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS came right over us and circled, before climbing and heading out across the sea.
There were so many birds at times we just didn't know where to look! We took a walk down to Nabben and along the way heard BEARDED REEDLING in the reedbeds, whilst on the coastal pools were good numbers of COMMON GOLDENEYE, plus our first EURASIAN COOTS!
At the point itself, water levels were rather high but we still managed to locate BAR-TAILED GODWITS, DUNLIN, COMMON RINGED PLOVER and a single LITTLE STINT feeding on a sand bar, whilst a little nearer, COMMON REDSHANK and COMMON GREENSHANK stood together.
A commotion from the bird counters drew our interest and we desperately scanned the skies, but all some of us could see was a dark long-winged Falcon drifting away. We heard later that it was an ELEONORA'S FALCON, a very rare bird in Sweden!
The sky was now full of COMMON BUZZARDS, RED KITES and EURASIAN SPARROWHAWKS, plus WESTERN MARSH HARRIER thrown in for good measure. The sea was rather quiet apart from a few COMMON EIDER and lots of GREAT CORMORANTS, GREYLAG and some BARNACLE GEESE.
We then returned to the lighthouse for coffee and a delicious cinnamon bun before heading over to the Heath and as we were leaving, Steve picked up five WHITE STORKS drifting in that direction. After settling in line with the hundreds of other birders we had 100 COMMON BUZZARDS that circled over us in small groups and other goodies were a WESTERN OSPREY, WESTERN MARSH HARRIERS, COMMON KESTRELS, RED KITES and a single WHITE-TAILED EAGLE. The stars of the show were six COMMON CRANES, two BLACK KITES and a LESSER SPOTTED EAGLE that we picked up circling above us, before it drifted back inland.
Delighted by this we finished our lunch and made the decision to head inland, as the migration had gone rather quiet by now.
Just 45 minutes later, we pulled off the main road and took a series of country roads into rolling hills where NORTHERN RAVENS were common plus RED KITES, COMMON BUZZARDS and overhead were five WHITE-TAILED EAGLES.
We reached our destination to have an initial scan which picked up another nine WHITE-TAILED EAGLES! It was a little chilly in the brisk breeze but we scanned around noting another six COMMON CRANES and lots of COMMON BUZZARDS and RED KITES.
Our last port of call was a large lake, always worth a look and today we were looking for a BLACK-NECKED GREBE which we eventually found asleep along with COMMON GOLDENEYE, LITTLE and GREAT CRESTED GREBES plus the more common wildfowl.
It was then time to head back to base for a quick turnaround before heading out for our evening meal in a nearby town. The food was great with large portions and some of the group (no names mentioned) even had room for dessert!
We arrived back at the hotel after another good day birding in Southern Sweden!
Monday 4th September 2017
Breakfast was at the usual time but with a brisk northwesterly wind blowing, we expected migration to be a little slow. Outside the hotel we picked out a few EURASIAN SPARROWHAWKS drifting over as they battled the wind.
We parked near the golf club and made our way out across the course towards the lighthouse where we got some shelter from the wind. More EURASIAN SPARROWHAWKS flew over and a very nice immature WESTERN OSPREY flew west.
There were few passerines around but with perseverance we winkled out RED CROSSBILLS, a GARDEN WARBLER in the mist nets and a good mixed flock of wagtails that contained a nice thunbergi race bird.
Moving to the north side of the lighthouse produced three BAR-TAILED GODWITS on the green and a couple of COMMON SNIPE that flew over.
With it still being quiet we visited the mound at Kolobacken but once again, it was rather birdless apart from a couple of EURASIAN HOBBIES.
It was then time for the obligatory coffee and cake stop at Anna's bakery which gave us the chance to warm up and then we tried nearby Falsterbo canal but apart from a single EUROPEAN WIGEON and a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER it was still rather frustrating.
Due to inclement weather conditions the birds were not moving so we headed inland to a wetland which did not disappoint. A couple of WHITE-TAILED EAGLES drifted over along with RED KITES, COMMON BUZZARDS and an adult male NORTHERN GOSHAWK which was fantastic to see.
The wetland itself held good numbers of NORTHERN LAPWING and with a little scanning, we found two juvenile SPOTTED REDSHANK and a COMMON SNIPE. The highlight though was six GARGANEY feeding amongst a mixed flock of NORTHERN SHOVELER, GADWALL, TUFTED DUCK and MALLARDS.
With our stomachs rumbling, we moved a short distance to our lunch stop adjacent to two large lakes. We spent the next hour or so here and recorded at least nine WHITE-TAILED EAGLES, plus small flocks of RED CROSSBILLS and a single GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER.
RED KITES and NORTHERN RAVENS were very much in evidence over the surrounding hillsides and it was a joy to watch them twisting and turning in the wind.
With the weather still not great, we relocated close to an area of woodland where we managed to get some shelter and lo and behold, we found more WHITE-TAILED EAGLES!
A flock of LINNETS zoomed around a nearby field and several flocks of COMMON CROSSBILL erupted from the pines. 15 EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS drifted overhead, heading southwest and quite a few COMMON KESTRELS frequented the area.
A female type COMMON REDSTART was found along the lane along with COMMON CHIFFCHAFF, EURASIAN BLACKCAP and EUROPEAN ROBIN.
We then spent the remainder of the afternoon at Nasbyholm where the highlight was a juvenile male NORTHERN GOSHAWK that flew over. Another WHITE-TAILED EAGLE circled in the distance and large numbers of COMMON BUZZARDS were noted.
It was then time to head back to base for a hot shower before meeting for our evening meal. We completed the bird list and headed to bed after a frustrating but good day.
Tuesday 5th September 2017
The wind had dropped significantly and after breakfast, we visited the lighthouse area in the hope that migration would start again after coming to an abrupt stop the previous day.
Good numbers of BARN SWALLOWS hawked over the woodland and drew the attention of a juvenile EURASIAN HOBBY that made several unsuccessful attempts at an early breakfast. Small numbers of RED CROSSBILLS flew over calling and the occasional TREE PIPIT was also heard.
On the golf course were good numbers of both WESTERN YELLOW WAGTAILS and WHITE WAGTAILS with the former containing both flava and thunbergi race birds.
As the wind had dropped even more than at first light it enabled us to stand out in front of the famous Falsterbo Lighthouse to scan the surrounding areas. A few COMMON EIDERS bobbed around on the sea and the usual large number of GREAT CORMORANTS flew past as they moved between feeding areas.
Eventually we picked up three SANDWICH TERNS moving north and they came quite close to the beach on occasions. A huge commotion to the north with hundreds of geese and wildfowl going crazy was tracked down to a superb adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE that drifted past us going south along the beach and scattering everything in its path.
A couple of GREAT TITS dived for cover into a nearby rosebush and some chipping calls were tracked down to the chicks of a nearby chicken!
With it warming slightly, we relocated to Kolobacken and from the raised viewing area noted lots of RED CROSSBILLS flying over, plus the occasional EURASIAN HOBBY and EURASIAN SPARROWHAWK.
A LESSER WHITETHROAT was seen skulking in a bush and we made the decision to head towards the beach. The walk through scrub produced EUROPEAN ROBIN and GOLDCREST and on reaching the beach, it was beautifully calm and incredibly sheltered.
A flock of around 40 COMMON SCOTER flew west and a nice group of COMMON EIDER were seen including a female close to the shore. A EURASIAN HOBBY hunted along the tree line and occasionally perched up allowing good scope views and along the shore were COMMON REDSHANK, DUNLIN and a single COMMON GREENSHANK.
We took a different route back and stumbled upon a superb RED SQUIRREL that zoomed up a tree right in front of us and a single EURASIAN WREN was heard and seen in a nearby garden.
At mid-morning we chanced a final visit to the Heath but apart from some showy TREE PIPITS and a single SPOTTED FLYCATCHER it was rather quiet. Just as we were about to leave, two Swedish birders put us onto a group of seven EUROPEAN HONEY BUZZARDS that appeared to have just dropped out of the cloud. They flew right over us, heading westwards across to Denmark.
With time slipping away, we spent the last hour or so on the coast with another visit to the shallow area of water we had visited on our first day in Sweden. WHINCHATS were seen from the carpark whilst we had lunch and around the farm we watched a nice flock of EURASIAN TREE SPARROWS coming onto the ground to feed.
Down at the water, four RED-BACKED SHRIKES perched along the hedges and good numbers of waders were present including EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER, RUFF, COMMON GREENSHANK, COMMON SNIPE, SPOTTED REDSHANK and a nice WOOD SANDPIPER that gave us a flyby.
WESTERN MARSH HARRIERS were present in good numbers with around six birds actively hunting the area and the usual wildfowl were present on the lagoons including quite a few BARNACLE GEESE.
It was then time to pack up our scopes and tripods and begin the journey back towards Copenhagen. Soon after leaving, the group in one vehicle picked out a MERLIN, perched on a heap of soil and as we crossed the five mile Oresund Bridge, a group of RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS swam past.
We made our way to check in and it was good to have time to relax and grab a bite to eat before boarding our plane back to the UK, which took off on time and arrived at a murky, drizzly Gatwick Airport bang on time.
What was brilliant was our smooth arrival, as we took just 11 minutes to leave the plane, go through passport control and pick up our bags, simply amazing!
We then said goodbye to a lovely group of people, who had all got on so well and enjoyed their bird migration experience in Southern Sweden!