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MIGRATION IN SOUTHERN SWEDEN - Friday 30th August - Sunday 1st September 2013

Friday 30th August
We all met at Stansted Airport for our short flight to Malmo which arrived a few minutes ahead of schedule. After sorting out the vehicle and were soon on our way south, noting small numbers of HOODED CROW along with a single RAVEN.

Our first site was a watchpoint overlooking several lakes which immediately produced three COMMON CRANES flying west and a distant RED-BACKED SHRIKE. A few RED KITES were seen over a distant hillside and these in turn attracted up to 20 RAVEN. Both COMMON BUZZARD and MARSH HARRIERS were noted, the former being of the paler ‘Borringe’ morph.

Recently cut corn fields provided a home for around 800 GREYLAG GEESE and the lake held small numbers of GREAT CRESTED GREBE and a few COOTS. Constant scanning produced several HONEY BUZZARDS, some of which were seen on the ground with one giving good views as it sat on a bush in a field. The woodland close by gave us a chance to see several passerines including CHIFFCHAFF and TREECREEPER amongst the usual BLUE and GREAT TITS.

With time getting on, we called into a new site to check it out and this proved really productive with both BLACK-NECKED and RED-NECKED GREBES along with SPOTTED REDSHANK, REDSHANK, GREENSHANK, GREEN SANDPIPER, RUFF and COMMON SANDPIPER. The bushes along a nearby field held a few SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS, BLACKCAP and CHAFFINCH.

Carrying on, we stopped at the local supermarket for supplies and also found several HOUSE SPARROWS in the carpark. Then we drove to our accommodation.
After a welcome shower, several of the group checked out the grounds and watched four large flocks of YELLOW WAGTAILS flying over as well as several marauding SPARROWHAWKS in search of dinner.

We were then off for our evening meal which went down very well before returning and completing the bird list, all very much looking forward to the next day.

Saturday 31st August
Meeting for breakfast at 6.30am, we made our lunch and headed off towards the migration watchpoint at Nabben. There were plenty of cars parked, which meant that the migration was expected to be good.

Small numbers of SISKINS flew over and our first SPARROWHAWKS of the day glided over the golf course. Once we reached the world famous Falsterbo Lighthouse, we spotted a flock of 10 HONEY BUZZARDS soaring westwards and steadily moving out across the sea towards Denmark. Whilst watching these, an OSPREY flew along the coast accompanied by several HOODED CROWS. The air was constantly alive with the calls of TREE PIPITS and amongst them was a call, almost certainly a RED-THROATED PIPIT but it was just too brief to be certain.

On the golf course were mixed flocks of both WHITE and YELLOW WAGTAILS, which were constantly flushed by several SPARROWHAWKS. A flock of COMMON CROSSBILLS flew south and carried on until they were specks over the sea. With more golfers due on the greens, we opted to walk down to the migration point at Nabben, which proved fortuitous as we added female MERLIN to our raptor tally. On the pools and sea were good numbers of WIGEON, MALLARD, TEAL and some GOLDENEYE. Waders consisted of RINGED PLOVER, DUNLIN, CURLEW, GREENSHANK, REDSHANK, SPOTTED REDSHANK, SNIPE and a single BAR-TAILED GODWIT.

With migration slowing down, we took the opportunity to visit the migration display in the lighthouse before heading back to the van and onwards to visit Anna's Bakery. We couldn't resist a cake and hot drink whilst noting a few SPARROWHAWKS and an OSPREY.

By now the air temperature was around 21 degrees so a visit was made to an area of heathland, which hopefully would give us the chance to see more raptors. Over 150 birders were present when we arrived and as we took position we noticed a flock of 20 HONEY BUZZARDS coming towards us. As they went over, there was a wide range of plumages from very pale through to almost black. COMMON KESTRELS hovered over the Heath and the occasional SPARROWHAWK flew over. Up to five OSPREYS migrated through, several of which gave quite close views as they circled overhead.

TREE PIPITS continued through and over the pines we located a single HOBBY which hawked insects before gliding westwards, and yet another flock of HONEY BUZZARDS. A scan of the heather yielded up to three 1st year WHINCHATS perching up onto Willow and brambles. With the wind now picking up and ominous black clouds behind us, it wasn't long before several short showers arrived and sent us scuttling to the trees.

These soon cleared and with lunchtime fast approaching, we decided to make a move and as we turned round, two jay like birds flew over and to our surprise, they were NUTCRACKERS! They soon disappeared from view, but we managed to see their white under-tail coverts and the spotty under-parts quite well. Absolutely delighted by this we headed off towards our lunch stop.

From our parking spot we watched TREE PIPITS, WHITE and YELLOW WAGTAILS and the occasional SPARROWHAWK as we tucked into lunch. Afterwards, a wander down to the coastal meadows and lagoon proved a good move, with a juvenile RED-BACKED SHRIKE perched up on an Elder showing quite well. The Maize crop was blighted with Corn Smut, which although it looked grey, squishy and quite horrible, it is eaten in Mexico as a delicacy!

Down at the water’s edge were vast numbers of birds, which included hundreds of GREYLAG, CANADA and BARNACLE GEESE as well as MALLARDS, PINTAIL, WIGEON and TEAL. The muddy edges provided home to waders such as KNOT, RUFF, AVOCET, REDSHANK and around 500 GOLDEN PLOVER, some of which were still in summer plumage. Both MARSH HARRIER and RED KITE were seen on the opposite side of the water but once again we could see black clouds approaching so we retreated to the van and made the decision to drive inland.

We didn't get far when the heavens opened and for quite a while we drove through torrential rain. After a quick stop at the accommodation for toilets, we took the new bypass and soon headed away from the rain. Once in the open countryside, we spotted an OSPREY sitting on a dead tree a long way from any water, it was no doubt taking a break on its migration to warmer climes.

A short while later, we got out of the van and started scanning the area. Although it was incredibly quiet and by now it had started raining. We opted to drive the short distance to a nearby lake and as soon as we pulled up in the carpark, we could see a large blob sitting atop a dead tree, a cracking adult WHITE-TAILED EAGLE!

We disembarked the van quickly and got scopes on this magnificent raptor as it just sat there for ages. Two OSPREYS flew over and one was joined by a very pale 'Borringe' type COMMON BUZZARD, allowing good comparison of colour. On the lake were more WIGEON, GADWALL, MALLARDS and GOLDENEYE as well as plenty of GREYLAG GEESE. By now the rain had eased so we headed off back to our original site but didn't get far, because typically the eagle had taken off and was hunting over the lake. The GREYLAG GEESE went crazy as this huge bird circled the woods before drifting off out of view.

It was still quiet apart from RED KITES, RAVEN, MARSH HARRIERS and a very brief appearance from the WHITE-TAILED EAGLE, so we drove along the back roads towards Havgardssjon. There were RED KITES, COMMON BUZZARDS and SPARROWHAWKS but it seemed the weather had made birds keep down. Just as it was time to leave, the sun came out and so did the raptors but they would have to wait until the following day.

Our journey back provided us with more sitings of KESTRELS along the road verges which hopefully meant that raptors were back on the move. After a welcome shower we headed off again for our evening meal which was very much enjoyed.

Later we completed the bird list after what had been a very satisfying day in the field.

Sunday 1st September
With our flight times being late afternoon, we once again had an early breakfast and loaded up the van to head inland. Soon after turning onto quieter roads, numbers of RED KITES increased which was a good sign.

Two first year WHINCHATS perched alongside the van giving good views and a short while later, we parked in an area renowned for passerines and raptors. Almost immediately, three HONEY BUZZARDS came over low allowing good views. A HOBBY dashed through and more RED KITES and COMMON BUZZARDS drifted over. A perched raptor in the valley below, turned out to be a 'Borringe' type COMMON BUZZARD. MARSH TIT and GOLDCREST were noted in a small line of Pines close to the road although they remained elusive throughout.

A walk along the road produced a BROWN HARE, which ran over the horse paddocks and a brief PIED FLYCATCHER was seen in tall Beech trees. The woodland was rather quiet but with patience we found a single GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, CHIFFCHAFF and some delightful NORTHERN LONG-TAILED TITS with their gleaming white heads. SISKIN and TREE PIPITS flew overhead as we wandered back and a northern race NUTHATCH was seen briefly.

Back at the van, we watched two COMMON REDSTARTS moving along the area of Pines before being flushed by a passing vehicle. With the weather looking good we opted for a spot of raptor watching and this proved to be the right choice with a PEREGRINE hurtling across a field as we drove slowly along a track, although views were rather brief. Once on the main road a juvenile WHITE-TAILED EAGLE flew close to the road and then four kites came up from a nearby wood, which on closer inspection were three RED KITES and a single BLACK KITE, a scarce bird in Southern Sweden.

Moving on, we drove a short distance and a different WHITE-TAILED EAGLE came over the fields and started circling the track above us which was simply amazing. A 'Borringe' type COMMON BUZZARD came over and the eagle absolutely dwarfed the buzzard. Once in position at the watchpoint, we picked up seven COMMON CRANES flying over, calling and with constant scanning, we found yet another WHITE-TAILED EAGLE, this time in company with an adult GOLDEN EAGLE!

RED KITES and MARSH HARRIERS drifted over the surrounding countryside and a few TREE PIPITS could be heard as they flew high overhead. Two Danish birders next to us had received a message about a male Pallid Harrier that had been seen nearby so we quickly loaded up and headed that way but soon we got waylaid with yet another WHITE-TAILED EAGLE.

Eventually we found a suitable place to scan but apart from around 30 RED KITES, there was no sign of the Harrier. We then spotted some distant birders so headed off in the hope that they were watching it. Reaching the birders we found out that there was no further sign but we had some compensation with over 130 HONEY BUZZARDS drifting over in two flocks and two more WHITE-TAILED EAGLES, making a count of seven for the day!

With an hour or so before we had to leave for the airport, we revisited the new wetland where we had much better views of 2 adult RED-NECKED GREBES feeding three juveniles, as well as the winter plumaged BLACK-NECKED GREBE. SPOTTED REDSHANK, GREENSHANK and RUFF. COMMON and GREEN SANDPIPERS were also seen here and a MERLIN dashed through. The last highlight was another flock of over 60 HONEY BUZZARDS that were kettling above us before drifting westwards.

After filling the van with fuel, we arrived at the airport in good time and although we had a short delay in taking off, we arrived back in the UK on time and the flight gave us a chance to see the Essex coast in great detail, from the Naze in the northeast right down to the Thames. After a delay in getting our luggage, we said our goodbyes after what had been a fantastic tour with great birds and company throughout.