Day six was to see us heading back south, and although a long drive it wasn’t without some very interesting stops along the way. Early in the day we had good sightings of more Velvet and Common Scoter along with Black and Red Throated Diver. I remember that these diver sightings had been particularly atmospheric. We also visited Rogen Nature Reserve where Siberian Tits have been recorded, but not by us on this occasion although birds seen did include Yellow Wagtail. Female Capercaillie was also seen again.
We were to have lunch at a mountainous reserve at Nipfjallet and happily we were able to drive to the top of the mountain. There was talk of magic roads and trolls, but our minds were set on birds and the walk across the high tundra where to the south stood the conical shaped mountain, Stadjan. This massive wilderness nature reserve straddles the Swedish/Norwegian border. Higher ground still held snow although much of it had recently melted. Having split up and walked the tundra a pair of nesting Dotterel were found along with Golden Plover. Eventually a pair of Rock Ptarmigan were also found and these provided good photo opportunities.
Well it had to rain sometime and day seven was the time it did, but there were still birds to be found and the rain wasn’t going to stop us. Our first stop brought us a Corncrake calling from just below us, Sam was the only one to catch a glimpse of it in the tall grasses below the viewing platform, only feet away from us. We saw our first Mute Swan of the trip and I remember Greenshank and Hen Harrier being seen again today. We stopped off in Tallberg village for what I understand was a ‘traditional waffle’. I thought this was a nice gesture until I found I had to pay for it! Too sweet for my taste. We watched Eagle Owls at a local mine, two juveniles and an adult bird. Black Redstart was also seen here. I believe this now large hole in the ground is Falun Copper Mine, opened one thousand years ago and closed in 1992. Considering the size of the area, The Eagle Owls were in our sights quite quickly.
By lunch-time the rain began to ease and we were on the lookout for Ortolan Bunting on the edge of an airfield. It wasn’t long before we heard the singing of the Ortolan Bunting and we were able to get close-up sightings of this species as it sang in the tree over our heads. Not a species easily found these days so it was good to get it on the trip list. It was a productive stop as we also had three Red Back Shrike and Whinchat close by us and Hobby and Merlin too.
Sam with Mount Stadjan in background.
By evening the rain had stopped altogether and after dinner we met up with local guide Zombor, who I seem to remember was Hungarian by birth. It proved to be a productive and fun evening. First of all we had a pair of Montagu’s Harrier. The male bird showing briefly and the female giving a much longer sighting as it perched on a post in the field. Seemingly this species is doing quite well in Sweden. A more distant White-tailed Eagle was seen on top of the distant treeline. Roe Deer were seen and brought a very good joke from Zombor which I’m afraid I feel unable to repeat on my family friendly blog. Another mammal was added to the trip list in the form of Hedgehog. This Hedgehog was on someone’s land and outside of their house but that didn’t stop one of our intrepid group seeking a close-up photograph, nor another member of the group joining in, who on returning to the vehicle seemed put out by the fact that the lady of the house had come out and seemed unimpressed by it all. I can only assume that our fellow travellers are quite happy for folk to enter their gardens back home without permission and take photographs!
Zombor took us to look for Long Eared Owls and asked for silence at which point the funniest event of the trip took place. Our leader had to bite his lip to stop the laughter coming. but Sam didn’t bother and laughed non- stop to the point I thought he had taken too much coke this evening, that’s coke as in Cola. Wish I could tell you the funny tale but I’m saving it for if I’m ever invited to provide a sketch for a new series of Only Fools and Horses. The incident still brings a smile to my face when I think of it. No, we didn’t find any Long-eared Owls but we did find a singing Thrush Nightingale. What a sound this species makes. The atmosphere was helped along by a now very still and warm evening and Grasshopper Warbler reeled from the field behind the hedge as Sam and I left the group and took a walk into the field to listen away from any chatter. I took one or two mosquito bites for my trouble, but it was worth it and it was our last evening in Sweden. We did see the Thrush Nightingale but to be honest it wouldn’t have mattered if we hadn’t, the song was enough. Not as melodic as our own Nightingale but certainly very much louder! I’d had a beer with my dinner and so found it necessary to take a walk behind a tree where I found a large area of Lilly of the Valley.
We ended the evening with a drive looking at an area where Zombor was aware that Lynx had been recorded that week. I relaxed and sat back not expecting at all to see Lynx and we didn’t. However, we did find a Badger. Perhaps I would not have been quite so relaxed if I had realised how good our chance of seeing Lynx was. Zombor recorded a sighting of Lynx in this same area only a day or two after our return home!
On day eight there was a morning of birding to take in prior to making for the airport. The morning was relaxing and productive but we fought the urge to get out of bed too early to seek out a singing Icterine Warbler. After all we had a long day ahead, but forgetting all of that we visited a nearby lake. It wasn’t long before we were watching Black Terns, Whimbrel and a Peregrine Falcon being mobbed by Marsh Harriers. Daniel, Sam and I soon also picked up the song of Great Reed Warbler.
We moved off to visit a wetland site which I believe is quite a new venture. Before arriving we stopped for a Common Rosefinch found in a garden. The wetland was quite extensive and provided us with nesting Common Cranes, 40 Little Gulls, Osprey, Great Crested Grebe Red-necked Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe and a far off barely visible Temminck’s Stint. Then just before we were to leave for the airport I finally had a lifer in the form of Northern Chequered Skipper Butterfly, seen nicely in the sun.
Northern Chequered Skipper
It had been another great trip. We’d had good leaders and a small group of friendly and fun companions. Everyone was keen to be involved and there was not a single super ego to deal with. The bird list for the trip came to 163 which was a record for this particular tour. Sweden had certainly far surpassed expectations. We arrived back home around midnight.