Monday, 12 October 2015

Barnacle Geese, their migration on Öland.

From our night stop at Grüsgard harbour, we are close to the roosting site of thousands of Barnacle Geese.

As the evening light fades, they start to arrive.

All day we have seen huge flocks of these Geese, the wind has been vicious and many just wanted to rest along the coast.

They come into view first in their tens then hundreds then thousands,
their calls filling the air.

Early morning the church across the stonewalled fields of Gräsgård, clear in the early sunshine. The sight and sound of so many Barnacle Geese rising was just amazing.

Only when they had passed did we take a walk across the fields, too find only a few are left resting.

For millennia the birds have passed over or settled for a few weeks to brood their young on the island of Öland, let us hope this continues, out there on this Baltic haven.

Öland the charming Swedish Island

It was another glorious morning out on the Island of Öland. The road takes us north through avenues of Birch trees. The route kept us close to the shore line. Öland has the best bathing beaches in Sweden but for us it is far to cold so we are heading for Långe Erik in search of nature at its finest.

A stop on our journey for coffee brought us to Neptune Ãkar.
 Across the Kalmar strait we could just make out the island of Blä Jungfrun, also known as the blue maiden. This island is a haven for the birds that migrate North through the Baltic sea.

This may well be one of the many Ringed Plovers we had observed heading North a few days earlier, a wealth of them here resting on the rocks.

Långe Erik, early April the peace and solitude so powerful, the light vibrant, this is the Northeastern corner of Öland. The lighthouse affectionally known as "Tall Erik” beyond the former keeper’s cottage.

Across the water the peninsular of Trollskogen the Enchanted Forest and between us one of the most mystical areas of water we have visited.

A walk around the shore edge, across the water, the Baltic Sea, deep and blue, the far sound of the waves just audible. The Canada Geese glide in silence, even the Gulls seemed silent. 

Greylag and Canada Geese drift through the still waters.

The last house on the Långe Erik peninsular, what a enviable position.

Our peaceful idle is broken as a skirmish breaks out between two Male Greylag Geese.

Inside the Enchanted forest the trees stand twisted and wind blown, the weather never far from one’s mind in Sweden.

That said, this Oak tree has stood for 900Years.

In an area of mixed trees, we found our first Brimstone butterfly of the year.

A large Tortoiseshell butterfly always a joy to find.

A sad wreck! it was the “Swiks” a former three masted schooner, washed up on the Trollskogen coast in December 1926. The crew of seven all escaped safely.

The huge nails are rusted and the timbers are rotting on the lonely skeleton of the once proud schooner, but she is still there after so many years! 

The Baltic sea and my little Mermaid.

Just bobbing around out there on the Baltic Sea, Long-Tailed ducks, how absolutely fantastic, these very pretty little ducks, for us a major sighting. 

Along the shoreline Goosanders hunt for food in the breaking waves.
This the Male bird.

The Female follows the Male into the surf.

The Enchanted forest and silver sand beach seem to attract Huge numbers of Mute Swan.

So many birds are now in the process of returning to Scandinavia after the long Winter.
They have been searching for food further South in Europe during the Northern harsh Winter.

It turns out that this is a fall of Goldcrests, they fill the trees in search of food, some hunt in the long grasses below the trees.

They feed frantically for an hour or more, then they move on.

Most of them seem to be Female birds but here we can see a Male, the little crest showing orange feathers along the crest. Females only have a yellow crest.

The peaceful life of Öland, shoreline, boats and a fisherman’s hut painted in the typical colours of Sweden.

Hundreds of Shelduck make their landings on Öland’s shore.

At Böda Hamn we settle down for the night.

As the sun disappears over the horizon, a White Tailed Eagle arrives in search of supper.

A burning sunset.

Farewell to the windmills of Öland.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Kalmar the gateway to the beautiful Island of Öland

Making our way south we stop at the delightful town of Kalmar Here we find, standing alone on its own island the beautiful Kalmar Slott (Kalmar Castle). Built in the 14th century it became the best defended castle in Sweden. The town of Kalmer had to be rebuilt following a devastating fire in the17th century, moved to new ground and no longer in the shadow of the Castle. 

We spent time walking the Castle and grounds, enjoying the best weather of the trip thus far.

Cannons in all directions.

A smile for the camera from my wonderful wife, (she has the cannon!) as we walk the ramparts.

Walking through the town we are reminded of the weather that we have passed through, this huge electric locomotive has a snow plough attached,  we understand why!

Before travelling across to the Island of Öland we take time to watch thousands of Eider ducks passing through the Kalmar Sund.(Kalmar Strait) The afternoon bring a bitterly cold wind but it is  no deterrent for the birds.

Wave after wave of these beautiful ducks migrate through the strait, flanked by the larger, Black Throated Divers returning to Artic breeding grounds.

We can hardly believe it, when we spot Little Ringed Plovers in the lens, far out at sea. These little birds flying from Winter feeding grounds as far away as southern Spain!

Late in the day we cross the Ölansbron (Öland Bridge) a 6km-long road bridge linking the mainland with the Island of Öland (the land of windmills).
More than four hundred mostly constructed of wood and some of stone.

We spend the night near the port in Bornholm, Öland’s capital town. On the open sea, male Eider ducks pump up their breasts in a mating display trying to win favour of alone female.

As the sun starts to set a male Golden-eye duck dives, then rests, in his search of food, before continuing north.


The mainland just visible across the strait.

The sun drops behind a ridge of cloud as the fishing boats leave harbour and into the Kalmar sund.

The sun re-appears just above Swedens mainland.

What a beautiful end to a great day!

Higher than the migrating birds, this jumbo jet flying from Copenhagen heads north across the artic on its journey. Tomorrow we continue north on Öland.