September to November

A hectic time!

While Ölands migratory birds takes off towards the southern latitudes, then the island is visited by countless crowds of more northern birds on their way south.

The amounts of individuals that pass are considerably larger than in the spring, now when the inexperienced young birds are migrating for the first time and represent a large part of all birds.

For many species, the autumn migration is more prolonged, and that makes the autumn season for rarity birding to a lengthy story, since it actually starts already in June and July with the first Waders and the young Starlings.

Perhaps it is the lack of a clear, early, peak among rarities in the fall that makes September feels a little unfairly treated among the rarities months.

Indeed, there is the chance to make great discoveries, not least among passerines, even early in the autumn.

Findings of species like Red-flanked Bluetail, Black-eared Wheatear, Siberian Thrush, Lanceolated Warbler, Aquatic Warbler and Sardinian Warbler shows that a lot can be hidden in the thickets in September.

Träsksångare, Lars Lundmark Fåglar ÖlandLanceolated Warbler, © Lars Lundemark

Stormfågel, Lars Lundmark Fåglar ÖlandNorthern Fulmar, © Lars Lundmark

After the firstwesterly storms in theautumn andinto October, it may be time tokeep an eye out over the ocean.

Many of the sea birds seen on Öland have been observed in just such circumstances. Northern Fulmar, Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater and Leach’s Storm Petrel are all first class rarities on Öland, and yet other species are missing.

It is easier to see a number of rarities which are much more frequent on the island than in other parts of the country.

Throughout the fall can Caspian Gull, and the rarer congener Yellow-legged Gull, both confusingly similar to our native Herring Gull, be seen on Öland.

Strong autumn storms make these species to seek land and slowly pull south along Öland’s south-eastern coast.

Medelhavstrut, Lars Lundmark Fåglar ÖlandYellow-legged Gull, © Lars Lundmark

Stäpphök, Lars Lundmark Fäglar ÖlandPallid Harrier, © Lars Lundmark

The sand banks at the southern tip of Öland often have a gathering effect for these species.

This also applies to the extensive goose migration. Scout through the Brent Goose flocks for individuals of both the rare light and black bellied species.

On calmer days with high skies and beautiful weather can still rare birds of prey, as Pallid Harrier and various eagles appear in the autumn.

It starts to thin out a bit among the waders. But among young birds and older individuals about to moult to winter plumage there are still exciting discoveries to be made.

The chance to find Pectoral Sandpiper is still high in early autumn, as well as another inexplicable regular autumn guest on the island: the Buff-breasted Sandpiper.

Tuvsnäppa, Lars Lundmark Seby Fåglar ÖlandPectoral Sandpiper, © Lars Lundmark

When we arrived in October, chances are greater to find exciting passerines in tree groves and scrubland, mainly near the coast, and most preferably on the east side.

Even the withering thickets of nettles and orach in the banks of rotting seaweed are attractive for rarities.

But it is often difficult species that are hiding – “skulkar” – to use the jargon among Swedish birders, equivalent to the English expression among birders  “LBJ – Little Brown Jobs” for any of the large number of species of small brown passerine birds, many of which are notoriously difficult to distinguish.

Dvärgsparv, Lars Lundmark Fåglar ÖlandLittle Bunting, © Lars Lundmark

So you have to polish your binoculars and practice in both the lid sounds as well as wing bars and eyebrows dashes to find the Yellow-browed Warbler and the Pallas’s Leaf Warbler in willow thickets, or to raise the difficulty level and try to find their super-“skulkiga” (LBJ) relatives Dusky Warbler or Radde’s Warbler, which is seen almost annually on Öland now in October. Also, keep your eyes open for the Common Firecrest, Booted Warbler, Olive-backed Pipit and Little Bunting.

But all passerines are not hiding where it is brushy. Desert Wheatear, Pied Wheatear and Isabelline Wheatear have all showed up in the late autumn, and Siberian Stonechat has to be classified as regular.

During the same period, the probability is the greatest to see the Gyrfalcon and the Red Phalarope on Öland.

Vitgumpad Buskskvätta, Lars Lundmark Fåglar ÖlandSiberian Stonechat, © Lars Lundmark

Bergstaigasångare, Markus Tallroth Fåglar ÖlandHume’s Leaf Warbler, © Markus Tallroth

The few Asian Desert Warbler encountered have gladly exposed them self between the oraches on the shore when the birders start to leave the island, sometimes well into November – a month that offers quality rather than quantity of rarities, with improbabilities as Chimney Swift and American Cliff Swallow in the top of the list.

At late autumn, it also happens that some Little Auk or Hume’s Leaf Warbler pops up, before the darkness for a while descends over Öland.

Some rarities that have only been seen in the autumn on Öland.

Booted Eagle, Great Bustard, Cream-coloured Courser, Long-toed Stint, Long-billed Dowitcher, Little Curlew, Sabine’s Gull, Chimney Swift, Middle Spotted Woodpecker, Three-toed Woodpecker, American Cliff Swallow, Siberian Accentor, Black-throated Accentor, Pied Wheatear, Siberian Thrush, Lanceolated Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Asian Desert Warbler, Radde’s Warbler and Taiga Flycatcher.

Tärnmås,Lars Lundmark Ventlinge ÖlandSabine’s gull, © Lars Lundmark

Nunnestenskvätta, Lars Lundmark Fåglar ÖlandPied Wheatear, © Lars Lundmark

Svartstrupig Järnsparv, Lars Lundmark Ottenby ÖlandBlack-throated Accentor, © Lars Lundmark

Dvärgörn, Lars Lundmark Fåglar ÖlandBooted Eagle, © Lars Lundmark

Ölands-fåglar-ÖOF Öland

Source: Ölands Fåglar © Ölands Ornitologiska Förening ÖOF  (authors this chapter: Anders Waldenström)


Pictures: see each picture

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