Birds of prey

To scout birds of prey on Öland

Scouting for birds of prey is exciting, regardless how common or rare they are. The variation between different spices, and even within a specific spice and between different ages is nearly endless. Even under the worst conditions you can sometimes almost instantly recognise witch spices it is, while on other times you can go crazy in trying to figure it out. You know the feeling, don’t you?

Overall

Generally when scouting for birds of prey, is that it’s often is observations on long distance, so therefore is a pair of binoculars as complement to the spotting scope almost a must. You scan the airspace preferably with binoculars and then go over to the spotting scope when you find something interesting.

During the warm season, however, heat fibrillation (heated air from the surface that rises during the day) makes it difficult with excessive magnification of the spotting scope, which is why a so-called zoom ocular is to prefer.

Aftonfalk, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandRed-footed Falcon, © Lars Lundmark

Havsörn, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandWhite-tailed Eagle, © Lars Lundmark

Most birds of prey, especially those with larger wingspan, like to use the thermals, i.e. the warm up winds that are formed over open land areas on sunny days. The best time to scout for birds of prey is between the hours of 10 am and 3 pm, even though they can be active earlier than that, not least during the migration times.

Migrating birds of prey on the western side of the island often follows the fault line or the western main road while migrating along the east side they follow the eastern main road. The northern tip of Öland is good in the spring/early summer, preferably with southerly or southeasterly wind, as they often leave the island or turn back up here then. Öland’s southern tip is correspondingly often best in autumn, preferably with wind from the north sector.

For the beginner the group of birds of prey can be seen difficult to grasp. Many species exhibit a great variety in the costumes and has also complicated moulting patterns. That you often see these birds at a long distance with heat shimmer, which blurs the details, do not make scouting for birds of prey easier. A good tip is to get help from more experienced birders as there are usually plenty of on Öland, and why not join one of ÖOF:s (Ölands Ornithological Society) guided excursions.

Good locations to find birds of prey on Öland.

A short presentation of suitable birding locations from north to south. For more information on each location, see the book “Fågellokaler på Öland”, in Swedish only, published by Öland’s Ornithological Society (ÖOF).

  1. The northern tip of Öland – Best time is May/June, preferably with south/south-easterly wind. Stop at the parking lot next to the roundabout and scout from the open land just south of it toward the southern sector. Many birds of prey show up over the forest in the southwest when the thermals have started. GPS: 57.36670, 17.09110
  2. Ölanda airfield – Even here is May/June the best time of the year. The location is just over 2 km southwest of Nabbelund, signposted “Flygplats” (Airport). The area consists of an open sandy moor which constitutes the airport, surrounded by forest. Stop at the parking lot and scout the sky from there. GPS: 57.32880, 17.05274
  3. Hornsjön (Lake) – Spring/early summer is the best time here. Hornsjön is located northwest of Löttorp, first drive toward “Alvedsjöbodar” and then turn off to “Horns Kungsgård”. Pass this and after about 1 km there is a parking lot on the right hand. Follow the hiking trail to “Klosterholmen” and just north of it lies the bird tower. Scout mainly the northern part of “Hornsjön”, where Hobby and Osprey often are seen. GPS: 57.19203, 16.92353
  4. Hörninge mosse (wetland/swamp) – Located approximately 3 km ESE Köpingsvik. There are several ways to get there, one is to drive towards “Solberga” and turn east towards “Hörninge” where you will find a parking lot and footpath leading to several good observation areas and platforms from where you can scout the area. This location is great for spring/early summer. GPS: 56.86233, 16.76705
  5. Kapelludden – This location is great during both spring and autumn, but can be interesting even in other seasons. Turn towards Kapelludden 4 at Bredsättra church and stop at the parking lot. Scout the western sector of the coastal meadows and over the woods behind. If it’s windy you can always take cover behind one of the boathouses. GPS: 56.82022, 16.83870
  6. Karums alvar – Best during spring/early summer. Turn east in “Rälla” towards Högsrum and drive about 3 km, then take north towards “Gärdslösa” about 500 m. Stop at the ship setting Noaks ark, a burial ground from the Iron Age, and go up on the ridge where you have a good view over the whole area. GPS: 56.77445, 16.62514
  7. Stentippen – Good during spring/summer. In ”Skogsby” south east of “Färjestaden”, turn towards “Kalkstad”,  in Kalkstad continue towards “Lenstad”. Halfway there has a more than 10 meters high dumpsite of excavated material been built north of the road, turn off the road and go up on the site, where you have an expansive view over “Mittlandsskogen” (forest). GPS: 56.61133, 16.54379
  8. Möckelmossen – is well worth a visit all year round. Turn east toward Stenåsa at Resmo. Halfway there, north of the road, is this alvar lake located. There is a large parking lot from where you can scout in all directions. Because of the large open areas with limestone in the day, very good thermals is created during warm days, which attract thermal flying birds like birds of pray, cranes, storks and so forth. GPS: 56.52795, 16.52041
  9. Stormaren – Good in the spring, summer and autumn. The bird protection area, Stormaren, is located about 2 km east of “S. Möckleby”, south of the road to Solberga. At Stormaren parking lots is available both south and north of the road, from where one has a good overview of the grounds. Stora alvaret (The Great alvar) between S. Möckleby and Solberga is relatively narrow and from a birds of prey point of view, the whole area is interesting. GPS: 56.35256, 16.46334
  10. The road Grönhögen towards Eketorps borg (fortress) – This area is good all year round for birds of prey. A good observation spot is the parking lot located a little north of the exit to Eketorp borg (fortress) along the eastern road, where it is a good all-around view of the area. The entire stretch from Grönhögen to Eketorp fortress, north as well as south of the road, is very good for birding of birds of prey. GPS: 56.29342, 16.49969
  11. Sibyllas jaktstuga (hunting lodge) – The area is one of Öland’s best location for birding birds of prey, especially during the spring, summer and autumn, but also during the winter. Between Ottenby Kungsgård (Ottenby crown demesne) and Ås Church is a Parking lot on the north side of the road where you have a good overview, both south to Ottenbylund and north over the alvar grounds. GPS: 56.23767, 16.43266
  12. ‘The Southern tip of Öland – here you find a low ridge in the north/south direction, just north of the bird station, which is known as “Gubbhyllan” (something like “the old man’s shelf”) and from here you have a good overview of the entire southern tip of Öland and up towards Ottenbylund and over the meadows. GPS: 56.19887, 16.40011

Birds of prey regularly nesting on Öland.

Honey-buzzard

Migratory bird from the tropics, which comes first in May and leave in August/September. A rare nesting bird in the forested areas on the island.

Red Kite

Migratory bird that thrives in the open and agricultural landscapes. An estimated 5 to10 individuals moves around the island, from March to October. A new nesting bird during the 2010s.

White-tailed Eagle

15-20 pair is nesting on the island, preferably on the east side and has a steady growth rate. During the autumn/winter, the number of wintering eagles increases because of the influx from east and north, and preferably concentrates at seabird-rich areas around the island.

Marsh Harrier

Migratory bird with approximately 50 couples nesting on Öland, in both wetlands and agricultural areas. Steadily increasing as a nesting bird.

 

 

Röd Glada, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandRed Kite, © Lars Lundmark

 

Ängshök, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandMontagu’s Harrier, © Lars Lundmark

Hen Harrier

Has nested on Öland on a few occasions, however rare. Regularly migrates via Öland in spring and autumn, and some individuals are wintering on the island.

Montagu’s Harrier

Migratory bird and one of the more unusual nesting birds, the number of nesting pairs varies between years, but Öland represents about two thirds of the entire Swedish population. Nesting habitats are especially saw-sedge swamps, shrub-land and farmland.

Northern Goshawk

Relatively sparse as a nesting bird and occurs in forested areas and in small groves over most of the island. Seen more during late autumn and winter, when many migratory young birds are passing by.

Sparrowhawk

Fairly common nesting bird on Öland, you find them in forest areas and groves over most of the island. Large influx of migrating young birds during the autumn.

Common Buzzard

A very common nesting bird, in forest areas and groves, of the island. Many young birds leave the island in the autumn, but the species is still in large amount wintering on Öland.

Golden Eagle

Occasional nesting attempts have been made in recent years. Otherwise, the species is observed sporadically, particularly during September to March. Most of the observations are done on Stora alvaret (the Great Alvar).

Osprey

Migratory bird that are nesting rarely with just a few pairs on the northern island. Often seen fishing in Hornsjön (lake), see no 3 in Good locations to find birds of prey on Öland.

Kestrel

The Kestrel is a nesting bird which in recent years has increased in numbers, more common in the southern and central part of the island and in open fields. Migratory bird which wintering with single individuals.

 

Fiskgjuse, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandOsprey, © Lars Lundmark

Merlin

Occasional nesting pairs in wood groves, preferably on southern Öland. Many pass the island during the spring and autumn, and some individuals can be wintering on the island.

 Hobby

A less common nesting bird, but when they do nest it’s in forest areas, often near freshwater areas, where they feed on larger insects. A species migrating from the tropics and many of which are migrating via Öland in the spring and autumn.

Regular visitors

Black Kite

A regular visitor on the island, seen with 5-10 individuals annually during spring, summer and autumn.

Pallid Harrier

More than 130 individuals have been seen through the years. Typically 1-5 individuals are seen per year, with the exception of a few years with a higher number. Observations are mainly done during the spring and autumn migration.

Red-footed Falcon

Annual visitor during the spring, summer and autumn, mostly seen during spring and early summer (May-June).

Gyrfalcon

More than 60 observations have been made of this great falcon, which, however, is not seen annually. Most of the observations are made from January to March and September to December and consists mostly of young birds.

Peregrine Falcon

From low numbers in the 1960s and 1970s, one could notice a slight upward trend from the mid-1980s. Since then, the number of observations has happily increased steadily during the 1990s and especially in the 2000s. Peregrine Falcons are now seen during all months but especially in September and October.

Most of the observations are made along Öland’s coastlands (the coastal meadows) on the east side, where they hunt seabirds, gulls, crows and so forth.

Rare Spices

Of the more rare birds of prey seen on Öland dominates the Lesser Spotted Eagle, followed by the Greater Spotted Eagle, Short-toed Snake Eagle and Steppe Eagle.

Mindre Skrikörn, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandLesser Spotted Eagle, © Lars Lundmark

Större Skrikörn, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandGreater Spotted Eagle, © Lars Lundmark

Ormörn, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandShort-toed Snake Eagle, © Lars Lundmark

Stäppörn, Lars Lundmark Rovfåglar ÖlandPallid Harrier. © Lars Lundmark

Ölands-fåglar-ÖOF Öland

Source: Ölands Fåglar © Ölands Ornitologiska Förening ÖOF  (author this chapter: Hans Ackered)

Translation: Visitoland.com

Pictures: see each picture

The book: Ölands Fåglar, 496 pages (only in Swedish), can be ordered at Naturbokhandeln
ISBN: 9789188124555