The Birds Island Öland

Öland, the Island of the Sun and the Birds.

You certainly do not need to be a birdwatchers to be awed by the birdlife on Öland. You step out the cabin door one day in May, and one is struck by how it is bursting in the air, in a neighbor’s hedge and in the shallow wetlands on the east side. And if you are old enough, the childhood memories of the 40 -, 50 – and 60’s strikes you with full power. Swallows crowding during incessant chirping in the air space between the farms, starlings jumps in and out of almost all the holes and nooks in the trees and roof ridges and the lapwings whimpers until the air seems to run out in the acrobatic fawning flights over meadows and newly sown fields. And when you hear godwits and curlews build up their song and then disappear from view during continuous warbling – then, it brings enjoyable memories of times long past.

Eurasian Curlew, Gösta Friberg Birds ÖlandEurasian Curlew, © Gösta Friberg

Now if you are already fascinated by birds, then Öland invites you to even more. Many eastern species has its utmost range right here. You see them almost nowhere else in Sweden. The graceful Montagu’s Harrier may be said to be the most striking example, to see the Barred Warbler demands a little bit more effort.

Montagu's Harrier, Gösta Friberg Birds ÖlandMontagu’s Harrier, © Gösta Friberg

Brent Goose, Gösta Friberg Birds ÖlandBrent Goose, © Gösta Friberg

In addition, the almost unimaginable amounts of migratory birds that passes each year, at about the same date. In late March / early April up to one hundred thousand Common Eiders comes passing the Kalmar Strait. In the morning light, if you are lucky, you may find the occasional King Eider hidden in the flock. In May, at least as many barnacle geese and around June 1st even more brant geese on tour. In September / October is it the other way – and then they are three times more!

One might ask what it is that makes birds so enticing and exciting.

Common Crane, Gösta Friberg Birds ÖlandCommon Crane, © Gösta Friberg

Well, just the fact that they can fly, must have amazed our ancestors for many hundreds of years. Almost all are beautiful – and exceptions sing in return so much better. Just take the nightingale – the most invisible bird on Öland, but also the provincial animal. Then, they are in many respects a bit of a mirror image of ourselves.

There are extremely egocentric species, others are social, a few are loyal to their family out to the wing tips, while most is gladly fooling around with the neighbor’s partner.

There are male chauvinists pigs and there are extremely emancipated females. Common to them all, is that they are extremely important for the balance of nature. Did you know that a single pair of barn swallows consume over 45,000 insects per brood, and they have at least two broods.

It’s thoughts like this you may have when you stroll along the sea meadows in May and October – the two big bird month – looking for astray flown rarities.

Öland has the most recorded bird species of all time. If you need assistance with finding the best places, learn the best determination tricks or just like to have company in the field – ok, then help is at hand.

Do the rest of your family rather swim, then you should come by the end of July. Then, tens of thousands of intrepid arctic waders rests here, within arm’s length of seaweed banks along low-lying coastlines. It is unbeatable!

Common Snipe, Gösta Friberg Birds ÖlandCommon Snipe, © Gösta Friberg

Bar-tailed Godwit, Gösta Friberg Birds ÖlandBar-tailed Godwit, © Gösta Friberg

Öland realy is, the Island of the Sun and the Birds.

By Visitolands Guest reporter: Gösta Friberg

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