Sweden 2024

Mark Finn
April 5-13

This tour was arranged for the SOC branch based in Inverness. The week was dominated by unseasonal weather with cool winds and frequent rain showers. Our main objective was to locate owls and woodpeckers in the extensive forests of central Sweden. The group was unfortunate that 2024 is not an owl year and most species were absent or scarce. Despite this it was a productive week for birds with thousands of cranes present or on migration to areas further north. Several interesting species were noted during the week including Great Grey Shrike which has decreased in numbers in recent years. I am sure the following report and bird list will help rekindle an enjoyable week in good company.

April 5th- 6th: Heathrow, Stockholm, Leksand, Limsjon, Insjon, Hundhagen, Nedre Osterfars
Daily 42 New 42 Running 42
Weather: Overcast with cold NE winds -1c/3c

The Inverness branch of the Scottish Ornithological Society arrived into Stockholm airport where they stayed on April 5th. The weather was poor with mist and snow which had mainly cleared the following morning when we set off NW to Leksand. The hotel gardens attracted Fieldfare, Common Starling, Eurasian Magpie, Common Chaffinch and large flocks of migrating Woodpigeons. The journey north added Whooper Swans and unidentified geese, Common Cranes and Common Blackbirds. Checked in at our hotel in Leksand and met up with our local guide. Our first stop was at Limsjon a large lake bordered by forest and viewing hides. A look at the lake revealed Greylag and Canada Geese, Mallard, Common Goldeneye and in the forest prospecting Eurasian Nuthatches. Further along the road a high point allowed us to view Insjon Lake where the group located Common Merganser, Mute and Whooper Swans and Common Goldeneyes. A patch of ice attracted the first White Wagtails of the spring migration. The woodland feeding station at Hundhagen was next a fabulous place to watch woodland birds at close range. It was exceptionally good for Great, European Crested and Marsh Tits, Common Redpoll, European Robin, Eurasian Siskin and predators in the form of Common Buzzard and Eurasian Sparrowhawk. The remainder of the day was spent around the old village of Nedre Osterfars where garden feeders held Eurasian Tree and House Sparrows, European Goldfinch and Yellowhammer. The fields near the village are a major migration trap for cranes and geese which duly obliged in numbers.
Mammals: Roe Deer (3)

April 7th: Leksand, Vagskalet, Lundbjorken, Dala, Gryssen, Siljansnas area
Daily 46 New 14 Running 56
Weather: Rain and mist followed by sunny spells on a fresh SW wind. 3c-12c

The group met up at 0530 hours and set off to the mature forest at Vagskalet. On arrival the songs of returning Eurasian Wrens rang out from the forest. A short walk towards a feeding station was productive for woodland species. Our next foray was to the remote village of Lundbjorken where the mist made birding impossible although we located a pair of Eurasian Woodcock walking along the forest floor. On the return journey a male Western Capercaillie was flushed from a tree and flew high over the forest and out of sight. Back to Leksand for breakfast followed by a slow drive towards Dala and Gryssen which added a pair of Northern Ravens and a showy Goldcrest. The habitat at Siljansnas where our guide Conny resides was excellent for birds with a calling Grey-headed Woodpecker nearby and Yellowhammers on his garden feeders. A highlight today was a party of Bohemian Waxwings feeding in a garden along with a solitary European Greenfinch. In a nearby field the first Eurasian Skylarks of the spring and a pair of White Wagtails. A detour down towards the lake produced an adult White-tailed Eagle which disturbed the ducks including Tufted Duck and Eurasian Teal. A bonus here was a Green Sandpiper calling and flying over the lake edge. The rest of the day was spent cruising around forest roads looking for owls and grouse without success apart from a male Grey Wagtail at an old mill.
Mammals: Roe Deer (8), Red Squirrel (1)

April 8th: Leksand, Orebro, Oset, Skovde
Daily 39 New 11 Running 67
Weather: Early rain giving way to a bright and sunny day with S winds 12c

Travel day south to Skovde via Orebro, the sixth largest city in Sweden. The journey was largely uneventful apart from brief views of Eurasian Jay and migrant flocks of Whooper Swan, Black-headed and Common Gulls. At Orebro the reserve at Oset took a bit of finding with the help of a local man. The car park with its tall trees attracted up to three Common Chiffchaffs giving their distinctive songs. The reserve is well run with various paths, viewing points and hides. The first pools held Common Goldeneye, Gadwall, Mallard and Common Coot. A scan of the extensive lake waters added Western Osprey, Western Marsh Harrier, Herring Gull, Great Crested and Horned Grebes whilst the reeds held a few Reed Buntings. At 1500 hours we made the journey to Skovde our main base for the tour.
Mammals: Roe Deer (30)

April 9th: Skovde, Hornborgasjon, Trandansen, Utloppet, Axvall Dump, Paradise Lake
Daily 60 New 17 Running 84
Weather: Sunny with light SE winds 7c-16c

Our local guide met up with us at 0800 hours. The first birding stop was Hornborgasjon which is an excellent place to look for water birds. On the way our Red Kites were flying over the fields looking for food. The first section of boardwalk revealed Great Crested, Red-necked and Black-necked Grebes, Gadwall, Northern Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Common Pochard and Common Goldeneye. Passerines were few but included White Wagtail and Common Reed Buntings. After passing the exhibition centre a high vantage point was reached where we could look into the vast lake. On grassy islands the group located Northern Lapwing, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Eurasian Wigeon, Eurasian Teal, Mute and Whooper Swans and a recently arrived Western Osprey. The next stop was at Trandansen which held 15000 Common Cranes many still being present or thermaling in the hope of northwards migration. Other interesting species present included Great Egret, Grey Heron and Northern Pintail. I moved down the road and parked at the church which gives another view into the area. This proved to be productive for Black Kite, Northern Raven and a Great Grey Shrike which was perched in the top of a birch tree. After lunch a visit to Utloppet revealed Green Sandpiper, singing Common Snipe and a party of Meadow Pipits. A visit to Axvall Dump added Herring Gull, Northern Raven and hordes of corvids and other gull species. At the end of the day we visited a military area near Skovde with singing Woodlark and two Redwings.
Mammals: Roe Deer (1), Brown Hare (1)

April 10th: Skovde, Borgedall, Boterstena, Lake Osten area
Daily 47 New 9 Running 93
Weather: Rather mixed with a strong S wind 7c-13c

We started with the forest habitats of Borgedall around 30 minutes from our hotel. A surprise was a party of Wild Boar crossing the road in front of us. A stop at the information board gave us an idea of birds in the forest including Green Woodpecker, Common Chiffchaff, Eurasian Nuthatch, Song Thrush, Common Blackbird, European Robin and Woodlark. We had no luck with owls so a return to Skovde for breakfast. At 0915 hours a visit to the fields and river habitats of Boterstena which was severely affected by flooding this year. Luck was with us as lingering flocks of geese were present including Taiga and Tundra Bean Geese, Pink-footed and Greater White-fronted Geese. A diversion was made to avoid the flooded area with a stop at a farm. The fields here held a large flock of Brambling and a few Twite plus Eurasian Skylarks establishing territories. Further down the road a garden with feeders allowed us to watch the common garden birds plus Marsh Tit and a showy European Greenfinch. On approach to Lake Osen we located Mallard, Eurasian Teal, Eurasian Wigeon, Common Goldeneye, White-tailed Eagle and a migrant group of Meadow Pipits. Next was the hide at the end of Lake Osen with an Western Osprey sitting on a nest in the very windy and testing conditions. The hide was a welcome shelter from the wind although it added no new birds. The rest of the afternoon was spent travelling slowly on country roads searching for birds. Later in the day a flock of European Linnet was found in a ploughed field with Meadow Pipit and a single Rock Pipit (Scandinavian race). A diversion to a fast-flowing river added nothing of note due to high water levels so a return to Skovde was made.
Mammals: Roe Deer (8), Red Squirrel (1), Brown Hare (4), Wild Boar (8)

April 11th: Skovde, Paradise Lake, English Garden, Billingen, Boterstena
Daily 54 New 5 Running 98
Weather: Overcast with frequent showers on a SW wind 5c-12c

The usual birds were around Skovde and Paradise Lake. A highlight of the trip was to come at the English Garden which is an area of oak woodland and a hide for visiting birders. The feeders allow close observation of Hawfinch of which 12 were seen on our visit plus Great Spotted Woodpecker, Great, Blue, Coal and Marsh Tits, Eurasian Nuthatch and a singing Redwing. In the forest a Green Woodpecker could be heard yaffling in the distance. A diversion to another area added a Redwing in the grounds of a church and at least two pairs of Common Kestrels using nest boxes in the area. The Billingen district was next on the agenda where we added the uncommon Little Grebe to the list. Near the ski area Horned and Great Crested Grebes were seen along with singing Common Chiffchaff and Mistle Thrush. In the afternoon we had a revisit to the Boterstena area where the water had receded slightly from yesterday morning. An elevated position was good for scanning the flooded fields with an increase in the numbers of Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, Eurasian Teal and Mallard. In the wetter parts of fields with exposed stubble observations of Common Crane, Black-headed and Common Gulls and a bonus in two Lesser Black-backed Gulls a scarce visitor to inland Sweden. On the other side of the flood at least three Eurasian Curlews were noted. The rest of the afternoon was spent cruising around the area with sightings of the commoner birds, Meadow Pipit and Yellowhammer.
Mammals: Roe Deer (6), Brown Hare (2), Wood Mouse (6)

April 12th: Skovde, Getteron, Gothenburg
Daily 41 New 10 Final 108
Weather: Heavy rain and cloud for most of the day on a SW wind 7c-9c

We left Skovde for the journey to Getteron a coastal reserve situated south of Gothenburg. The weather worsened as we went south with building rain fronts and squally showers. Red Kites were seen on the journey and I picked up supplies at Varberg which is close to the main birding areas. Thankfully the hide network gave some protection from the elements. From the roadside hide the group located Common Shelduck, Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Pied Avocet, Ringed Plover, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Eurasian Curlew, Dunlin, Common Redshank, Northern Wheatear, White Wagtail and good numbers of Barnacle Geese. An unexpected sighting was of five Common Terns sitting on a grassy island. Lunch was taken overlooking as area of sea with sightings of Common Eider, Red-breasted Merganser and Sandwich Terns. A visit to the main centre produced nothing of note so I headed to our final base at Gothenburg airport.
Mammals: Roe Deer (12)

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