Saturday, 16 February 2008

During half term we had the fabulous opportunity of a skiing holiday in Hemavan in the north of Sweden. On condition that Orjan, our host, acted as Hemavan's "Turistprast" (tourist priest - fairly self explanatory) for the duration of the holiday, we could borrow a house next to the church!

We packed our binoculars dreaming of hordes of Nutcrackers and Siberian Jays, but unfortunately the reality was almost more surprising. There weren't any birds! The total number of species seen on the whole trip was about 10...

Magpies and Hooded Crows were the only regular birds. Great tits were fairly common, averaging about 5 individuals per day! Pistewatching (not a recommended activity) produced only Raven, whilst snowballfightwatching delivered a lovely flypast by a male Black Grouse - the star bird of the trip!A very tantalising "owl sp." made an brief appearance for James; he thought it was a very small Barn Owl, before realising that Sweden has no Barn Owls, and decided it was probably Tengmalm's. Simeon heard a distant call which was possibly a Hawk Owl.

Perhaps the best birding was when we sat in a ditch and watched someone's bird feeders! Blue Tit, (Northern) Bullfinch and several gorgeous Willow Tits were added to the list before we resorted to burying each other.

Capercaillie, Black Grouse, Willow Grouse and Ptarmigan were all seen stuffed in various cafes.

Still, despite the lack of birds we had an amazing holiday with some great friends!

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