|Birding trip South Sweden 17-24 Sep. 2004|
John van der Woude - www.jvanderw.nl
See also photo section
See also additional info/photos of our trip in Sep/Oct 2006
Falsterbo and Öland in South Sweden are famous destinations for observing bird
migration. Falsterbo is at the narrow, extreme south tip of Sweden, so
millions of birds from the North (not only from Sweden) have to pass
here. Öland is a very elongated and very scenic island along the east
coast, and the south tip of it also acts like a funnel for migrating
birds from the far North. We had visited both sites long ago, at the early
start of the migration (August). This time we went in the 3rd week of
September, which can be regarded as a good overall period both for numbers and
for diversity of migrating birds. Of course, as at all migration
hotspots, you need some luck, especially with the weather.
We went by car and entered Sweden via the new and very impressive bridge between Denmark and Malmö. We first went to Falsterbo for a few days, then to Öland for a few days, and then back again to Falsterbo for the final days. This way we had a chance of picking up different species and numbers at Falsterbo. Moreover, when driving back from Öland to the bridge to Denmark it is only a small detour to Falsterbo.
We camped both at Falsterbo and on Öland. The campsite ('Ljungen') at Falsterbo is right next to the best raptor watch site (just 100 m or so from our tent; the Ljungen heath). On Öland we camped behind the Ottenby youth hostel, which is only 3 km from the entrance to the south tip reserve of Öland.
|Our daily routine at Falsterbo was as
follows. Before sunrise we drove from the campsite to the tip, and parked
our car at the parking place just in front of the gate of the golf
course. You 'll find this spot best by following the signs for 'Fyr'
(= lighthouse; one of these signs is at N55°23'37,3"
E012°50'12,3"). Don't panic if the parking place is already full, just
park at some reasonably wide spot along the road back into the
village, despite the fact that it is not allowed. Everybody does it,
and the signs probably are more meaningful during the busy summer
period. And if you don't like this, drive back a bit further until a
parking place near some shops. Now walk onto the golf course (see
barrier in the photo section) via the
public dirt road leading to the lighthouse. Around the lighthouse is a
small wood, and just in front of it you can stay and
watch the bird migration. However, most people walk on towards the
extreme tip of the peninsula (and of the golf course): follow the
track past the lighthouse, then take the trail along the western shoreline. At the
south tip are several small low
bushes giving shelter against the wind if needed. From here, just look
to the North and watch the migration. We had days with about 50.000
finches (Chaffinch mostly). From here, also keep an eye open to both shorelines,
both for waders as for migrating Sparrowhawks. And please be a bit
quiet so others can hear their buntings etc.
After a few hours the migration often decreases, but meanwhile some more raptors may appear. We mostly left the place at about 10 a.m., and drove straight up to Skanör, the village directly North of Falsterbo (you may not be aware that there are two villages, it seems one). Here we often first went to the big and fabulous ICA supermarket (N55°24'43" E012°50'35") to buy food, and sometimes visited the bakery/tearoom a bit behind it. Then we sometimes went to visit some coastal birding sites just NW of Skanör. Mostly however we went back to the campsite for an early lunch at our tent, meanwhile still watching migrating birds overhead (nice additions to our tent list!). At about noon we then always walked to the heath next to the campsite, taking our camping chairs with us, and settled between the dozens of other birders at the border between the open birch wood and the open heath. A telescope is a must here, as many raptors pass at some distance, or should be picked up well before they are already overhead. The numbers of raptors and the side of the heath where they pass, vary with the weather (see maps below). However, generally it is always worthwhile to visit this spot near the campsite, around noon. If you don't see many other birders, then ask 'where they all have gone', because apparently other sites may be better then. It is said that the canal bisecting the peninsula is often a good place then, either at the north tip or at the south tip.
Raptor watching often ended for us at about 3 p.m. Later in the afternoon we
chose between varying destinations, sometimes at the peninsula itself
(like at Skanör, see above) and sometimes further away, or we just
stayed at the nicely wooded campsite if we had been longer on the heath. A
scenic birding site at about 1 hour from Falsterbo is the Krankesjön
(N55°41'24" E013°29'35"), a lake with good marshy borders amidst wood patches, and
with old arable fields around.
The Ottenby youth hostel is cosy and clean, and the campsite behind it (a small meadow) had plenty space. As a camping guest you are free to use the kitchen etc. of the youth hostel. The location is in fact at the northern end of the woods which constitute the upper part of the south tip reserve. I believe there is even a trail from the campsite into the reserve woods.
It is the extreme south tip of the
reserve (and so of Öland) that attracts birders above all. Here is
the Lange Jan, the tall lighthouse, with a small grove with
bird traps, and with a restaurant with toilets. You reach this on a 4-km paved road straight south from the
entrance. The car park is close to the lighthouse.
Walk slowly along the grove with the traps, past the lighthouse, and down to a small
wind breaker near the sea shore. Here you will find other birders
watching the migration, especially in October. September is also
interesting here, but most Swedish birders visit Öland later in
October, mainly because of a greater chance of finding rarities. We,
in the 3rd week of September, found it great to be here at this south
tip with only two or three other birders (one birder was counting here every
day), especially after the large numbers of birders at the south tip
of the Falsterbo golf course. In general, the more natural scenery of Öland
compared to the seaside resort of Falsterbo is an extra reason for
combining Falsterbo with Öland. The numbers of migrating birds are
much lower on Öland, but the species diversity may be equal.
17 Sep. Left the Etap at 06.30 h and got the Puttgarden ferry of 07.45 h. At sea we saw a few groups of migrating passerines and one Sparrowhawk. In Denmark, it was easy to follow the direction for Malmö and the toll booth appeared to be at the Swedish side of the impressive bridge. Here we had to wait quite a while before we could show our combined ticket for the Puttgarden ferry + this bridge (which we had bought at the Puttgarden ferry), and in fact we could as well have bought separate tickets, because then you can drive quickly through an unmanned gate where you pay with your bank card (Cirrus) or credit card. We arrived at the Ljungen campsite of Falsterbo at 10.45 h (after having seen a Red Kite along the way down from the Malmö bridge), and had the tent ready at 11.30 h. We had a quick bite and walked in a few minutes to the heath where several birders had settled already for the raptor watch. We stayed here till 15.15 h and saw, among others, c. 100 Sparrowhawks, 50 Honey Buzzards, 4 Merlins, 150 Barn Swallows, and foraging Hobbies.
18 Sep. We woke up at 05.30 h and we were at the car park in front of the golf course at 06.20 h where we had the last parking space available. From here it was a 15 minute walk to the extreme tip of the peninsula. There, we first had a lot of Yellow Wagtail migrating, then Tree Pipit, Siskin and Chaffinch, in this order of appearance. The most numerous of these species was Siskin! Other species were, among others, Grey Wagtail, Linnet, Brambling (heard), Sparrowhawk of course (about 120 seen along the west shore), four Merlins, about 30 Honey Buzzards (later in the morning). At the shore, especially south of the south tip, were several waders of course. The migration decreased a bit after 10.30 h (except Honey Buzzard). We departed at 12.00 h, and at 13.00 h we were on the Ljungen heath again (like yesterday), where we had about the same species as yesterday, although in smaller numbers. Dutch friends took us to the Krankesjön site east of Lund (see photo section). From the splendid watch tower we watched 4 Hobbies foraging in the air all the time, and the 2 of 3 Ospreys were also active now and then. Right below our feet we saw a group of 'white-headed' Long-tailed Tits, so their white heads stood out clearly.
Sunday 19 Sep. A mild rain, and we decided that this would be a better day for driving (to Öland) than staying here at Falsterbo. We took it easy and left the campsite at 10.30 h only and even did some shopping at the large ICA of Skanör. We had a lunch stop at the gatukök (snack bar) of Bergkvara (halfway between Karlskrona and Kalmar), crossed the bridge to Öland at about 15.00 h. We took the eastern road down to the south. At Sandby 'artillery range' we noticed Snow Bunting, Golden Plover, Wheatear and others. Nearby at Stenasa is a famous naturalist book shop, which is mainly open in the weekend, and this shop has a large collection of world birding literature. At Stenasa Bad & Camping we saw Pied and Spotted Flycatcher (together on one branch!) and a large number of Goldcrest. The campsite of the Ottenby vandrarhem (youth hostel) had plenty of space.
Mon 20 - Wed 22 Sep. We stayed on Öland
until Wed. 14.00 h and saw, amongst others, the following species on
the sites mentioned above (but mainly of course at the Södra Udde
Thu 23 & Fri 24 Sep. Both days
were mainly spent at the above-mentioned sites of the Falsterbo
peninsula, with the said daily routine. The migration was marvelous,
esp. on Thursday. I quote some numbers for this day from the Falsterbo
birding web site (http://www.skof.se/fbo/index_e.html - Archives, kept
in detail for one year):
Sat. 25 Sep. In the morning we had marvelous weather at the campsite and we added a few species to the 'tent list', like Crossbill and Hen Harrier. We left the place around noon and were just in time at the yearly party of friends in the eastern Netherlands.
Links etc. Falsterbo
- Birdwatch - Where - clickable map Falsterbo peninsula.
(Swedish crowns: 100 SEK = 10,84 euro)
E.g. Krankesjön (wetland and open woods), Fyledalen (raptors).
http://www.skof.se/fbo/sales/nybok_pdf/Lokaler_web_e.pdf - map and description of birding sites near Skanör, the village north of Falsterbo.
http://www.skof.se/fbo/sales/nybok_pdf/Fagelaret_web_e.pdf - text about migration periods.
Camping: open till end of September,
Skr 160 (200 with electr.) for tent + car, shower SEK 5 per 4 minutes.
Plenty of space in September, no need for reservation.
Ottenby youth hostel + campsite tel. (+46)
- Ottenby Bird Observatory,
restaurant, which is open around midday, till end of September I
|Some nice Swedish food specialties
(at e.g. ICA supermarkets:)
Filmjölk (Fil): thin sort of yogurt