Dates: 30 March-6 April 2024
Price: £2,095 not including international flights (single room supplement £200)
International flights: £150 (approx)
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 are 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 habitats with low human populations. Late March often produces unusual records with recent tours recording Black Kite, Red-breasted Goose and a male Siberian Rubythroat.
Please note you should arrive in Goteborg on the evening of 29 March.
Day 1 Today we transfer to the coastal reserve of Getteron an area of grass meadows adjacent to the coast. Getteron attracts many birds in late winter including Barnacle Geese, Pied Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit. It is always possible that White-tailed Eagles will be around in good numbers along with Peregrine Falcon. Later in the day we transfer to the small town of Skovde passing through patches of forest and farmland. On the forest edge there is a good chance of locating Fieldfare, Eurasian Nuthatch the Scandinavian races of Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit and Hawfinch. Four nights in Skovde.
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 connecting with almost 25,000 Common Cranes which rest here annually before dispersing to breed. The sight and sound of so many birds is an amazing spectacle. On the lake we should locate Great Crested, Red-necked, Little, Black-necked and Slavonian Grebes. In the reedbeds 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 Goose. On one day an early morning visit to the woodland bogs at Billingen may reveal 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 whilst the reedbeds attract Western Marsh Harriers. 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, and we will hope to encounter Eurasian Eagle Owl, Spotted Nutcracker, and Parrot Crossbills.
Day 5 This morning we travel towards Leksand and our base for the next two nights. On arrival in Leksand a visit to a woodland feeding station may locate the Scandinavian race of Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Common Redpoll and the northern race of Eurasian Bullfinch. As dusk approaches a visit to the extensive bogs and forests around Rattvik where we have good possibilities to see the resident Great Grey and Ural Owls and possibly Tengmalm’s Owl and a lingering Hawk Owl or two from further north.
Day 6 Today is spent looking for forest species and in particular woodpeckers. Our focus is to locate Black, Grey-headed and European Three-toed in the vast forests of the region. Other species we may locate include Black Grouse, Western Capercaillie, Spotted Nutcracker, European Crested, Willow and Marsh Tits, Common and Parrot Crossbills. In another section of forested hillside, we will search for the attractive Hazel Grouse which sometimes occurs on roadside verges and a there is a fair chance of seeing Golden Eagles. Other species using this habitat may include Northern Goshawk, and occasionally Siberian Jay.
Day 7 A morning revisiting sites around Leksand if we have missed anything over the last two days. On our way to Stockholm, we visit Hjälstaviken a large shallow lake surrounded by reedbeds, meadows and arable fields. During the early spring migration, we may locate Western Osprey, Common Crane, Bearded Reedling, Western Marsh Harrier, White-tailed Eagle and Goosander and other water birds. Night in Stockholm
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.