Gotland in september. Birding trip report 6-20 Sep. 2015, including Öland and Falsterbo.
John van der Woude  -  www.jvanderw.nl
After several visits over the years to Öland we finally made it to Gotland. In contrast to Öland, not many birders visit Gotland. Gotland is a three hour ferry ride from Oskarshamn, and the birding is not so concentrated as on the south tip of Öland, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. It means that even in very good birding habitat on the broad southern peninsula of Gotland you often are the only birder. The only hotspot where you will certainly meet other birders in September is around the ringing station at Hoburgen in the SW corner of that southern peninsula. 
Nolie and I found Gotland, in a sunny second September week and only in the south, a great destination for roaming around and finding our own birds. We saw many raptors and loads of flycatchers, to mention two extremes. The number and diversity of raptors was greater here on southern Gotland than we are used to see on southern Öland.
We drove from Holland to south Sweden and took the Tuesday ferry (11 a.m.; on other days often only at 9 p.m.) from Oskarshamn, which is only 60 km N of Kalmar, the city of the bridge to Öland. The ferry arrives after three rather birdless hours at Gotland's capital Visby, where the old city is a walled Unesco monument. From there it is c. 75 minutes to Burgsvik, the main village of the southern peninsula. We had a stop in Hemse (just visible on the map below) to buy (at 57.238991, 18.375710) the 1:50.000 topographical map of that southern peninsula, plus the 1:100.000 'cycle' map for the whole of Gotland.
In Burgsvik we used the camping as our base for the whole period (up to Sunday 13 Sep.), and there is an ICA supermarket plus a petrol station. Other accommodation is e.g. possible at Holmhällar (nr. 10 on map below; see their website). 
We had good weather with rain only at two nights. The temperatures were very pleasnt, mostly around 18 C. Gotland is said to have often good weather in September.
Visited sites on southern Gotland (with coordinates for centre and/or best place to park)
1. Burgsvik, our base. The campsite itself is a nice birding area for songbirds like flycatchers. 57.032532, 18.257010.
2. Faludden, a wild pasture area on a sub-peninsula, with some interesting small woodlands. 56.998770, 18.380003.
3. Stockviken bay and bird tower. P at 56.997210, 18.348471.
4. Hoburgen, the must-see point in the SW. P at 56.920513, 18.127189.
5. Scenic coastal road with small woodlands and bordered inland by the Husryg steep plateau slope. 56.929156, 18.136855.
6. Digrans village, the last outpost with large trees. Bordered by plateau wall. Songbirds and raptors. 56.922436, 18.161086.
7. Muskmyr marsh reserve, at the NW side of the dry 'alvar' plain. P at 56.942340, 18.196143.
8. Barshageudd, a 'dent' sticking out into the sea. Mix of coastal and inland habitats. Raptors. 56.912078, 18.188348.
9. The south rim of the dry alvar plains. Also good for raptors. 56.919856, 18.201995.
10. Holmhällar pensionat, had lunch a few times. A good full meal for just 10 euros. Nice coast. 56.934804, 18.287691.
11. Lars Jonsson museum and Naturum. P at 56.969229, 18.231456.
12. Närsholm peninsula, good wetland and interesting savanna-like open habitat. 57.227054, 18.683479.
13. Näsudden reserve, wetland and woodland. P at 57.069316, 18.190613.

The ferry from Oskarshamn to Visby on Gotland passed Blå Jungfrun, the famous granite rock near the north tip of Öland.

Spotted Flycatcher in apple tree at the campsite of Burgsvik (site 1). The first of several hundred Spotted Flycatchers we saw on Gotland and Öland. They were everywhere! But the most numerous passerine we saw on Gotland was White Wagtail, often by the dozens.

Faludden (site 2). Typical old Gotland windmill. Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk.

Small woodlands on Faludden had flycatchers. Birders often find rarities here as this peninsula sticks out to the east, where the birds from Siberia would land first... In general, it is assumed that Gotland, given its location in the middle of the Baltic Sea, gets many more Siberian vagrants than Öland. However, the number of birders is so much lower on Gotland that many of these vagrants remain unseen.


Spotted Flycatcher in the above woodland.

Hoburgen cliff (site 4) south of the ringing area. A lovely area to walk around, with the constant combination of shrubs and shallow coastal waters.

White-tailed Eagle (Zeearend) south of Hoburgen. In these coastal waters groups of Red-breasted Merganser (Middelste Zaagbek) were a common sight.

Pastures, shrubbery (Goldcrest) and old stone walls (Wheatear) SE of Hoburgen. Around here we flushed a Red-throated Pipit.

The ringing station of Hoburgen, with Red-backed Shrike in front.

The ringers called us to come and have a look at their catch of that moment, Yellow-browed Warbler (Bladkoning). As a sign of how few birders this island has and how few visit it: the ringing station closes somewhere mid September already, as they cannot cope anymore with the multitude of birds, especially Robins, flying into the nets. So, if you are a ringer...

The 'gap' in the cliff of Hoburgen, looking out to the west. Many songbirds like Lesser Whitethroat (Braamsluiper) flitting around in the bushes below the small pass.

At the seaside of Hoburgen cliff. Good woodlands in the distance (= along the scenic coastal road, site 5).

Trail up the Husryg plateau at site 5, with Merlin on the stairs.

The scenic coastal road of site 5 seen from the Husryg plateau. The photo below is at the woodland to the right.

A nice mixed group of songbirds was foraging here at the seaside of site 5. Mainly flycatchers (Spotted and Pied).

Large trees (the last ones for many southbound birds) and old plateau cliff at Digrans, site 6. The traditional roof (still seen on several places) is made of a marsh plant.

Muskmyren (site 7) with White-tailed Eagle. Here we also had our only Rough-legged Buzzard, and a Black Kite (uncommon on Gotland) was in the surrounding area. 

In the Lars Jonsson museum, with a video where the artist explains the way he works (often painting the birds directly in the field). Lars Jonsson lives on Gotland. The museum is in an old vicarage. At home we have several books with Lars Jonsson's paintings.


Nollie happy to see Lars Jonsson's orginals. Here a wall painting made for the museum.

You can even have lunch here, with Lars Jonsson's lithos on the wall and a view of the large garden.

Gotland is also famous for its fossils. Here a grave of crinoids (I think). These stones can be found anywhere. We mainly searched once at the coast a few km west of the Burgsvik campsite, below the old lighthouse.

Wheatear was common on the island.

View from the bird tower at Stockviken (site 3). We had approached the site first from the other side (the south) and found to our astonishment a Pectoral Sandpiper. When we told a passing birder, we heard that Lars Jonsson had discovered the bird there this morning! Bird alerts in Sweden are now often on a local scale, and more and more via Facebook. 

This Black Stork had been in Stockviken for several weeks already. Here also White-tailed Eagle and Peregrine.

The southern coastal site 8 which we tried because it looked birdy. Here we found Pallid Harrier, possibly the same juvenile we had seen near site 4 the day before. The most common raptor was Sparrowhawk, which constantly flew from bush to bush in surprise attacks of possible songbirds.

It is this fantastic mix of rough pastures, shrubs, old stone walls and an irregular coastline which makes south Gotland so attractive. Plus the fact that there is so many of this that you will often have these areas to yourself. A wilderness experience hardly possible on much more visited Öland. And in case you don't know the Swedish all man's right: you are free to walk practically anywhere except in gardens.

The dry calcareous alvar plains at site 9. Good for many birds including raptors. We saw a group of 8 White-tailed Eagles playing in the air, with once five of them in one scope view! Also two Golden Eagles, Hobby, Sparrowhawk.

Inland on this peninsula there is still some agriculture, rather small-scaled. For many young Swedes Gotland is not the place to be, far from the mainland, so the island depopulates and new developments are scarce. The better for the birds of course.

Several local birders had told us that we should visit Närsholm, site 12 and rather far up the east coast (see map above, in the upper right corner). It is a very nice peninsula, and completely a nature reserve (with cars permitted).

The savanna-like grassland of Närsholm, with many Wheatear. Most of these bushes had its own Wheatear!

With the car (just visible) left behind at the end of the north road of this Närsholm peninsula, we walked north to the 'best' wader wetland we saw on Gotland (not to be compared with what we are used to in Holland), including a bay with hundreds of Goldeneyes. 

The SW tip of the Näsudden peninsula, site 13. Again several flycatchers (Spotted and Pied) at this last woodland before migrating south.

This Näsudden nature reserve consisted formerly of two small islands but now they are connected by natural spits to the mainland. Thus nice sheltered bays originated. A lark flew up several times from these spits but it never made a sound, so unlike what a Skylark would do.
When driving back to Burgsvik at dusk we had Nightjar on the road three times!

Boulders of all sizes and colours can be found along the Gotland south coasts. They often form a nice background in Lars Jonsson's paintings.


A Pied Flycatcher on the ferry back from Gotland to the mainland.

Of course we also visited Öland, where we had been four times before. Always good in autumn. Here the Lange Jan, the lighthouse at Ottenby on the south tip of this narrow island. The extreme south tip is also good for seabirds, and in fact it is for this that most Swedish birders go here. We had a Pomarine (Middelste) and several Parasitic Jaeger (Kleine Jager) within just two hours, and a Black-throated Loon (Parelduiker) closeby.


View from the observation tower (good for raptors) at the border of the Ottenbylund forest and the Schäferiängerna pasture. A group of 12 Dotterels (Morinelplevieren) was on these pastures. Hobbies were nearly permanently chasing around the tower! We also had a migrating Osprey. Later in the autumn there can be a more steady stream of raptors here.

At some places, the east coast of southern Öland is not unlike the coastal scenery of southern Gotland, but mostly on a smaller scale.

Like on Gotland we saw many Spotted Flycatchers on southern Öland, especially at the southwestern border of the Ottenbylund forest.

We spent the penultimate day of our trip inland at Söderåsen national park. It was far too windy for bird migration at Falsterbo. We knew that the birds would be held up these days and that Saturday 19 Sep. would be fine for Falsterbo.

So when we arrived early in the morning at Falsterbo we witnessed a massive migration of mainly Chaffinches and Siskins. Instead of walking on to the extreme south tip behind the golf terrain (photo above), we opted for staying at the lighthouse (photo below) as we saw that the main stream of the birds was well visible there, and clouds of Siskins seemed to leave the peninsula near the lighthouse. We also had a few Grey Wagtails.


In the afternoon we sat, as usual on sunny days, on the Ljungen heath on the east side of Falsterbo to watch migrating raptors. We had met friends from Holland and were surrounded by even more Dutch birders. Apart from the many Sparrowhawks we had Buzzard, Honeybuzzard, Peregrine, Hobby, Merlin, Red Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier. At 3 p.m. we left Falsterbo and were home in Holland a little after midnight. We prefer nowadays to not take the ferries but to drive via the bridges of Malmö and Odense in order to have maximum flexibility.
Species list
G = Gotland
Ö = Öland
F = Falsterbo
x = common or not specified
S = inland in Skåne
        
       Black-throated Diver     Ö       Parelduiker
        Great Crested Grebe     Ö       Fuut
            Slavonian Grebe     Ö       Kuifduiker
                  Cormorant           x Aalscholver
                 Grey Heron           x Blauwe Reiger
                Black Stork  G          Zwarte Ooievaar
                  Mute Swan           x Knobbelzwaan
              Greylag Goose           x Grauwe Gans
             Barnacle Goose           x Brandgans
                Brent Goose  G  Ö       Rotgans
                     Wigeon           x Smient
                    Gadwall           x Krakeend
                       Teal           x Wintertaling
                    Mallard           x Wilde Eend
                   Shoveler           x Slobeend
                Tufted Duck           x Kuifeend
                      Eider           x Eider
              Common Scoter     Ö       Zwarte Zee-eend
                  Goldeneye  G          Brilduiker
     Red-breasted Merganser  G  Ö       Middelste Zaagbek
                  Goosander  G  Ö       Grote Zaagbek
              Honey-buzzard  G     F    Wespendief
                 Black Kite  G          Zwarte Wouw
                   Red Kite  G     F    Rode Wouw
         White-tailed Eagle  G  Ö       Zeearend
              Marsh Harrier  G  Ö  F    Bruine Kiekendief
                Hen Harrier  G     F    Blauwe Kiekendief
             Pallid Harrier  G          Steppekiekendief
                    Goshawk  G     F    Havik
                Sparrowhawk  G  Ö  F    Sperwer
                    Buzzard           x Buizerd
       Rough-legged Buzzard  G          Ruigpootbuizerd
               Golden Eagle  G          Steenarend
                     Osprey     Ö       Visarend
                    Kestrel           x Torenvalk
                     Merlin  G  Ö  F    Smelleken
                      Hobby  G  Ö  F    Boomvalk
                  Peregrine  G  Ö  F    Slechtvalk
                  Partridge  G          Patrijs
                      Crane  G  Ö       Kraanvogel
              Oystercatcher           x Scholekster
              Ringed Plover           x Bontbekplevier
              Golden Plover           x Goudplevier
                Grey Plover           x Zilverplevier
                    Lapwing           x Kievit
               Little Stint           x Kleine Strandloper
         Pectoral Sandpiper  G          Gestreepte Strandloper
                     Dunlin           x Bonte Strandloper
                       Ruff           x Kemphaan
                      Snipe           x Watersnip
                     Curlew           x Wulp
           Spotted Redshank     Ö       Zwarte Ruiter
                   Redshank           x Tureluur
                 Greenshank  G          Groenpootruiter
             Wood Sandpiper     Ö       Bosruiter
           Common Sandpiper           x Oeverloper
              Pomarine Skua     Ö       Middelste Jager
                Arctic Skua     Ö       Kleine Jager
                Little Gull     Ö       Dwergmeeuw
          Black-headed Gull           x Kokmeeuw
                Common Gull           x Stormmeeuw
   Lesser Black-backed Gull           x Kleine Mantelmeeuw
               Herring Gull           x Zilvermeeuw
              Sandwich Tern           x Grote stern
                Common Tern           x Visdief
                 Black Tern     Ö       Zwarte Stern
                  Guillemot     Ö       Zeekoet
                 Stock dove  G          Holenduif
                Wood Pigeon           x Houtduif
              Collared Dove           x Turkse tortel
                   Nightjar  G          Nachtzwaluw
                      Swift     Ö       Gierzwaluw
           Green Woodpecker           S Groene Specht
           Black Woodpecker           S Zwarte Specht
   Great Spotted Woodpecker           x Grote Bonte Specht
                   Sky Lark           x Veldleeuwerik
                Sand Martin     Ö       Oeverzwaluw
               Barn Swallow           x Boerenzwaluw
               House Martin           x Huiszwaluw
                 Tree Pipit           x Boompieper
               Meadow Pipit           x Graspieper
         Red-throated Pipit  G          Roodkeelpieper
             Yellow Wagtail           x Gele Kwikstaart
              White Wagtail           x Witte Kwikstaart
                       Wren           x Winterkoning
                    Dunnock           x Heggemus
                      Robin           x Roodborst
                   Redstart           x Gekraagde Roodstaart
                   Whinchat     Ö       Paapje
                  Stonechat           x Roodborsttapuit
                   Wheatear           x Tapuit
                  Blackbird           x Merel
                  Fieldfare           x Kramsvogel
                Song Thrush           x Zanglijster
         Lesser Whitethroat           x Braamsluiper
                Whitethroat           x Grasmus
                   Blackcap           x Zwartkop
      Yellow-browed Warbler  G          Bladkoning
                 Chiffchaff           x Tjiftjaf
             Willow Warbler           x Fitis
                  Goldcrest           x Goudhaan
         Spotted Flycatcher           x Grauwe Vliegenvanger
    Red-breasted Flycatcher     Ö       Kleine Vliegenvanger
            Pied Flycatcher           x Bonte Vliegenvanger
            Long-tailed Tit           x Staartmees
                  Marsh Tit           x Glanskop
                 Willow Tit           S Matkop
                   Coal Tit     Ö       Zwarte Mees
                   Blue Tit           x Pimpelmees
                  Great Tit           x Koolmees
                   Nuthatch           x Boomklever
                Treecreeper           x Taigaboomkruiper
          Red-backed Shrike  G  Ö       Grauwe Klauwier
                        Jay           x Gaai
                     Magpie           x Ekster
                    Jackdaw           x Kauw
                       Rook           x Roek
                Hooded Crow           x Bonte Kraai
                      Raven           x Raaf
                   Starling           x Spreeuw
              House Sparrow           x Huismus
               Tree Sparrow           x Ringmus
                  Chaffinch           x Vink
                  Brambling        F    Keep
                 Greenfinch           x Groenling
                  Goldfinch           x Putter
                     Siskin           x Sijs
                     Linnet           x Kneu
                  Crossbill           S Kruisbek
               Snow Bunting  G          Sneeuwgors
               Yellowhammer           x Geelgors