It was that time of the year again, peak migration at Falsterbo, Sweden. This was my third visit after 2004 and 2005. Accompanying me were good friends and birding colleagues Bernie Ellis, Mike Hodgkin, Chris Mills and Mark Speck.
We arrived at Stansted Airport during the early hours of Friday morning September 28th where the four of us, myself, Bernie, Mike and Mark met up with Chris who had driven over from Norfolk. The Easy Jet flight to Copenhagen, Denmark was due to depart at 07-10 am but was delayed by approximately 30 minutes. On my previous two visits we had flown to Malmo, Sweden where there had been a convenient late evening departure for our flight home. Unfortunately this had been scrapped. The option of flying both in to and out of Copenhagen posed no real problems as the driving times from Copenhagen to Falsterbo and Malmo to Falsterbo were both very similar although there is the additional cost of the Oresund Bridge to take in to consideration. The flight took a trouble free 90 minutes and after collecting our baggage we headed for the Hertz rental desk to pick up our hire car, a ford Mondeo Estate. The formalities sorted we were soon on our way towards the Oresund Bridge out of Denmark in to Sweden and down towards the Falsterbo peninsula. The weather was not particularly good and unfortunately it remained very unsettled for the remainder of our trip. It was always windy, often raining and at times very cold. This resulted in rather poor raptor movement with low numbers of birds.
There are a number of notable watch points in the area, namely ‘The Canal’, ‘The Heath’, Kolabacken and Nabben. We decided to try at ‘The Canal’ first where an initial scan of the skies revealed a few raptors but it was only a trickle. Best of all were two Rough-legged Buzzards, five Honey Buzzards, five Red Kites and a couple of Merlins. A few passerines were also moving through including two Woodlarks and a single Common Crossbill. Following our spell at ‘The Canal’ we drove back to Forteviken and the Viking village, the base for the duration of our stay. After picking up the keys and unloading our baggage we drove to ‘The Heath’ in the hope of seeing more raptors. Unfortunately passage was almost non existent. There was a single Hen Harrier along with the usual Sparrowhawks, we recorded around 300 during the day and Common Buzzards, approximately 60 recorded during the day. During the late afternoon we moved on to the point and spent some time in the vicinity of the lighthouse and Nabben. Although it was quiet, birds of note included Barnacle Geese, Eider, Common Scoter, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Redwing, Fieldfare, Brambling and Siskin.
As we made our way out to the lighthouse we were pleased to see a small party of Common Cranes. Shortly afterwards we noted further groups of birds migrating out over the sea as well as some moving inland. On our way back we were driving past ‘The Heath’ and remarked on it’s suitability for roosting cranes. Sure enough there were many birds already present and more were joining them all the time, a truly spectacular sight. Although they were difficult to count there were clearly several hundred and we estimated a day total of approximately 1100.
September 29th. Despite the early part of the morning being quite bright it did not continue and rain arrived by lunchtime. Although a few raptors were noted at Nabben, movement was slow. Best of all were two immature White-tailed Eagles along with six Honey Buzzards and two Red Kites. We visited a number of other sites in the area, notably Kolobacken, Knosen and ‘The Heath’. Common Buzzards (day total 200) and Sparowhawks (day total 500) were always around. Single Peregrine Falcon, Hobby and Merlin added to the variety as did five Marsh Harriers, four Hen Harriers along with another White-tailed Eagle, an adult bird this time.
Whilst standing at Nabben we could see in the distance that large numbers of Common Cranes were leaving ‘The Heath’ and moving out to sea. Throughout the day we observed several parties of birds for an approximate total of 1600. Passerine movement was light with Woodlark 50, Skylark 30, Tree Pipit 49, White Wagtail 30, Mistle Thrush 100, Common Crossbill 1 and five Snow Buntings being the most notable. Standing beside the lighthouse we could hear a Black Woodpecker calling. Despite the wooded garden being relatively small we were denied even the briefest of views. Close to the lighthouse a first-winter Caspian Gull was a good find. On our visit to ‘The Heath’ a single Arctic Skua flew over as well as a party of 12 Tundra Bean Geese.
September 30th. With little improvement in the weather both passerine and raptor movements were small. Standing at Nabben some efforts were made at sea watching and we were rewarded with Black-throated Diver 6, Pintail 178, Common Scoter 96, Velvet Scoter 18, and five Arctic Skuas along with a single Little Gull, six Sandwich Terns and ten Razorbills. Raptors passage was practically non-existent apart from a single Honey Buzzard along with a few Common Buzzards. The day also produced totals of five Marsh Harriers, ten Hen Harriers, a single Hobby, two Peregrine Falcons and three Merlins from other sites in the area.
The passerine highlight was undoubtedly a Richard’s Pipit which moved quickly through. A total of 17 Tree Pipits were counted along with 14 Woodlark, 504Siskin, three Common Crossbills and over 1,000 Chaffinch/Brambling. We ended the day at Forteviken where large numbers of geese were arriving to roost and we estimated at least 6,000 Greylag geese and 500 Barnacle Geese. A superb adult White-tailed Eagle spent around twenty minutes hunting over the marsh before eventually catching a prey item and flying off with its prize.
October 1st. A promised improvement in the weather did not materialise although passerine passage was certainly a lot better. Birds were clearly moving in far greater numbers than the previous three days and as we made our way out towards Nabben we were a little more optimistic.
Chaffinch/Brambling topped 50,000 along with 2290 Siskin. Small parties of crossbills were a feature and we were quite impressed at the regular counters ability to differentiate between the calls of Common and Parrot Crossbills, we couldn’t. A total of 142 Common Crossbills were counted along with a minimum of five Parrot Crossbills. Scarcer species were also recorded as singleRed-throated Pipit, Penduline Tit, Serin and Lapland Bunting all moved quickly through. Other species of note included 28 Woodlark and 300 Blue Tits.
Raptor movement was once again almost non-existent although three different White-tailed Eagles, two immatures and an adult raised our spirits. A single Osprey and Honey Buzzard passed the point along with few Common Buzzards and Sparrowhawks. Whilst standing at the point we had a rather distant view of a Black Woodpecker as it flew in to the lighthouse wood.
Despite the poor weather everyone enjoyed the trip. Falsterbo, like all migration points, has its good and bad days but there is always something to see. With low cost flights to both Malmo and Copenhagen it is easily accessible and makes an ideal location for a short autumn break.