Sunday, September 20, 2009

First week in Stockholm

Poor record shot of White-tailed Eagle at Lundby

The day after arriving we spent some hours in Norra Järvafaltet nature reserve, exploring the southern part of lake Saby. Four Common kestrels and 3 juvenile Marsh harriers were busy hunting. Even better was a Common Buzzard that flew by, not a bird we see much of in Malta. When passing through some forest we enjoyed great views of a male Greater spotted woodpecker. And then the first lifer of the trip… a Tree creeper! There was much activity on the lake, 12 Gadwalls, 6 Pochards, 1 Wigeon, family parties of Mute swan and great crested grebe as well as loads of Coots. Two Ospreys, Common terns and a Grey heron were more interested in life under the water than that above it.
The next day we were taken around in the truly magnificent archipelago by a friend. We were shown an Osprey nest with both adults about. We sat watching them coming and going sometimes with sticks for the nest for quite some time. A great experience! Also Great crested grebes were everywhere as were four gull species the highlight of which was two Greater black-backed gulls. At the end of the tour I got my second lifer, a Caspian tern flying over. Back on land I saw what I had long been looking forward to, a White-tailed eagle! Although immature it was still fantastic. It was shortly followed by a Lesser whitethroat, another lifer, a bit smaller but still nice!
Early Sunday morning we visited another part of Norra Järvafaltet (Southern Ravalen lake). As we arrived a male Marsh harrier flew overhead with prey in its claws later mobbed by a Hobby. Then a superb lifer – a male Red backed shrike! At the lake a hunting Osprey was great as were a Honey Buzzard, a male Tufted duck still in summer plumage and a Pochard. On the way home an adult White-tailed eagle soared overhead giving stunning views!
Two days later we set off for Landsort, the southernmost island in the archipelago, and a very good point to watch migration especially waders. However the weather was not on our side, the heat meant a terrible heat haze and the shores were littered with sunbathers. All the same we got three Velvet scoters on migration, a further lifer. Passerines were quite abundant though with the best being Winter wren and Marsh tit, both lifers, as well as quite a few Red-backed shrikes, Yellowhammers, Common and Lesser whitethroats and Willow warblers. From the ferry we spotted 2 Arctic terns, the fourth lifer of the day and a joy to watch as well as White-tailed eagle, Eiders, Goosanders, Tufted ducks and of course Cormorants!
Spent our last day in Stockholm before travelling to Oslo, at Lundby farm B&B, which is surrounded with good and varied habitats. We were up and about at sunrise and started off with a pair of Common cranes close by feeding. One or two Stock doves were in amongst the Woodpigeons, providing a nice variation! Then two Mistle thrushes landed in a pine tree – 10th lifer. Later we saw many more as well as fieldfares and blackbirds. In a small oak wood we got some good birds, the best was a Green woodpecker, another beautiful bird we hadn’t seen before! Wryneck and Jays were a nice bonus. From here we could also see over a small lake and a flooded field where Teals, Coots, Goldeneyes, Wood sandpipers, and a single Spotted Redshank and Greenshank were busy taking their breakfast. Suddenly the air was filled with Lapwing calls, around 80 flew around before landing. Quite a sight especially when we’ve only seen singles before! We appreciated the Spotted flycatchers’ effort to reduce mosquito numbers but wished they had larger appetites! Another Green woodpecker, 4 wheeling Buzzards and yet another White-tailed eagle concluded some great birding in Stockholm, for now.

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