Western Sweden in spring


Dates: 25 March-1 April 2023
Price: £1,995 not including international flights (single room supplement £200)
Deposit: £200
International flights: £150 (approx)

Western Sweden is within easy reach of the UK and offers exceptional birding in early spring with large concentrations of Common Cranes at Lake Hornborga. In addition to the cranes this is an optimal time to search for several species of owls and woodpeckers, many of which will be on territory at the end of March. The area around Hornborga is dominated by a mix of agricultural land, huge coniferous forests, bogs and shallow lakes which attract a wide variety of birds and wildlife. Leksand is further north and situated in an area of prime forest and lake habitat.

Day 1 Fly to Goteborg and on arrival transfer to the coastal reserve of Getteron which is an area of grass meadows adjacent to the coast. Getteron attracts many birds in late winter including Barnacle Geese, Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit. Attracted by this avian buffet, White-tailed Eagles may be around in good numbers, along with Peregrine Falcon. Later in the day we transfer to the small town of Skara, passing through patches of forest and farmland. On the forest edge there is a good chance of locating Fieldfare, Eurasian Nuthatch the Scandinavian subspecies of Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit and Hawfinch. Four nights in Skara.

Days 2-4 Three full days to explore the delights of Lake Hornborga and several other areas within close proximity. Hornborga is one the largest lakes in Sweden, being fairly shallow and fringed with reeds and willow scrub. Our main interest is the 25,000 Common Cranes which pause here on their journey to their more northerly breeding grounds. Watching these magnificent birds, as they feed, display and call to each other is one of the most spectacular avian sights – and sounds – in Europe.
We should get excellent views of the birds from several viewpoints and nature centres around the lake. We should also find Great Crested, Red-necked, Little, Black-necked and Slavonian Grebes out on the water. A sizeable population of Eurasian Bitterns are present and with luck we should locate them giving their booming calls. Other species we may encounter include Greater White-fronted, Greylag and Taiga Bean Geese, Smew, Northern Pintail, Eurasian Teal and hunting White-tailed Eagles. Rarities occur on a regular basis and recent visits have produced sightings of Red-breasted Geese. On one day an early morning visit to the woodland bogs at Billingen may provide encounters with Western Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Eurasian Pygmy Owl and the impressive Black Woodpecker. To the north is Lake Osten, another important stopover point where we have a chance of finding the rare Lesser White-fronted Goose while the reedbeds attract Western Marsh Harriers to breed. During late March we may locate lingering visitors from further north including Golden Eagle, Rough-legged Buzzard and see displaying Northern Goshawk. The extensive forest also has scarcer species, notably Eurasian Eagle-Owl, Nutcracker and Parrot Crossbill.

Day 5 This morning we travel north towards Leksand which will be our base for the next two nights. En route a diversion to LakeTysslingen to see (and hear) the annual gathering of thousands of Whooper Swans. On arrival in Leksand we will have time for an early evening search for resident Great Grey and Ural Owls and possibly Tengmalm's Owl and perhaps a lingering Northern Hawk-Owl or two from further north.

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Day 6 Today is spent looking for forest species and in particular woodpeckers. Our main focus is to locate Black, Grey-headed and European Three-toed in the vast forests of the region. Other species we may locate include Nutcracker, Crested, Willow and Marsh Tits, Common Redpoll, Common and Parrot Crossbills.

Day 7 Depart from Leksand to Goteburg via Torslandaviken a vast bay fed by one of Sweden's largest rivers, the area is a noted migration hot-spot. A wide range of waterbirds use Torslandaviken as a staging post including Garganey, Common Eider, Common Goldeneye, Greater Scaup and Smew. If the winds have been southerly in direction there is a good chance of an early migrant Northern Wheatear and Shore Lark.

Day 8 Transfer to the airport for our flights back to the UK.

This tour is operated for Birdwatch and BirdGuides by Birdwatching Breaks (ATOL licence 4324). It is fully inclusive of accommodation and meals, transport, park entrance fees and permits, guidance, tips and taxes. Not included are international airfares, insurance, drinks and items of a personal nature. For more information or to make a reservation, call Birdwatching Breaks on 01381 610495.

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