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WINGS Birding Tours – Narrative

Sweden: Autumn Migration at Falsterbo

2005 Tour Narrative

Sweden never fails to impress and this year’s tour was no different. General migration was held up by some adverse weather conditions but this didn’t stop us recording a good variety of species and witnessing some mass migration.

Anticipation for the tour is always heightened by PG Bentz’s slide show on the first evening where we learn about Falsterbo and the detailed research that is carried out there; we are also teased by photos of raptors and migrants. With PG’s assistance throughout the tour, not only did we see the expected species, but we were also treated to some rare birds in the hand, the best of which included Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Grasshopper Warbler, Common Rosefinch and Penduline Tit. Raptor numbers were low due to the high winds, but we still managed to record 13 species at Falsterbo, including Honey and Rough-legged Buzzards, White-tailed Eagle, Marsh and Hen Harriers, Red Kites and Merlin. Our time on Öland added Goshawk and Hobby to this list as well as a “fall’ of Rough-legged Buzzards (37 in one afternoon!) and Öland’s speciality White-tailed Eagles (at times visible from outside the hotel, although to get them on our room lists we would have had to ask the other guests if they minded us traipsing through their bedrooms!!).

Wildfowl were well represented with flocks of Greylag and Barnacle Geese, hundreds of Wigeon, Goldeneye and Eider, with smaller flocks of Velvet Scoter and Pintail for good measure. Black-throated Divers were seen on several days and at least three Slavonian Grebes were seen off Öland. Wader diversity was also good although for sheer numbers there was little competition with the flocks of Golden Plover on Öland, every ploughed field seemed to hold several hundred birds, with smaller numbers of Lapwing and Ruff. Öland’s other speciality is Common Crane, and this species was recorded each day we were there, peaking at approximately 500 one morning before breakfast!

At Ottenby we had the opportunity to learn more about ringing as we took a guided tour around the bird observatory (Fagelstation), had great looks at Sparrowhawk, Lesser Whitethroat, Treecreeper and Goldcrest in the hand, and even took part in “driving’ the Helgoland trap (shame we didn’t catch anything apart from a rubber duck!). Perhaps the highlight of the whole trip was eating our picnic lunch close to Ottenby Lund (the Kings hunting estate on Öland). Even before we had chance to smell the fish paste there were Rough-legged Buzzards passing over, with greater numbers of Sparrowhawks and a couple of Hobbies seen later. Add to this two Red-backed Shrikes not far away, some simply gorgeous “Northern’ race Long-tailed Tits, an elusive Lapland Bunting, masses of waders and the balmy sunny weather—it was an afternoon not to be missed.

All of this was done at a relaxed pace, with plenty of breaks for coffee and cake, and some light shopping in the Öland bird shop. Our hotels were excellent once again, and the warm welcome and homemade Blackberry crumble are never to be forgotten.

James Lidster

Created: 26 March 2006