It has been just about two years since we have been in Europe. We came for the 2012 Midsommer Celebration and it was cold and to be honest I got terrible bird pictures. They were blurry, and generally a bad overall effort. Our two sons, Tyko and Allwin are studying in Uppsala so it was also a good time to go and visit them and in typical Danielson tradition we invited ourselves over to share in the festivities and my “sister” Kajsa’s and her husband Peters in a town called Saltsjobaden which is a bit southeast of Stockholm. Their daughter Camilla lived with us for 9 mos as well 5 years back and now as everyone has grown into adults, it is nice to see her and Jenny her sister as well. Last year while doing my big year I won a bet that I’d stay away from Europe all year and so using my dollar I’d won, I put it on plane fare for this year.
Sweden was even colder this year. It started out in the sixties but by the end of our visit it was down to the fifties and even rain was all too frequent. On Midsommar while Kajsa prepared an amazing spread of food…let me just say……wow! The younger crowd went into the forest and picked branches, flowers and fashioned traditional headgear for themselves..
I spent the week working on my bird list. Which is where many problems become ever apparent. You see, the Europeans like Clements, EUO et al and the ABA DO NOT agree. So the Herring Gull, for example, in Europe is divided in one list into three species, Vega (Siberian), Eurasian and North American, and three species (all of which I’ve seen) but the ABA lists them as one, the Herring Gull. The yellow wagtail is two species for the ABA, but only one for the Europeans (also I’ve seen both). These problems continue, and then there is the confusion on names. The Goosander is our common merganser. The Eurasian Wren is our Winter wren even though it neither looks like ours (tawny brown and bigger) and doesn’t have the same song. Their Black-throated loon is our Arctic loon and birds like Moorhen is same yet their coot, the Eurasian Coot, is a separate species. Somehow they have categorized the Gray Wagtail with twenty subspecies (which don’t look too similar, yet they have divided very similar looking warblers into all sorts of species…………yuck! Even the carrion crow and the hooded crow which had been put together into one species seems to have been split up again, so I tried best to keep organizing what I’ve seen before and what I did see and all this and they even got a new field guide, which is different than the last one.
The woods around Saltsjobaden is filled with cool species and one rarely seen one, the black woodpecker so I walked and photographed organizing my European bird list as I went and started there. It will be a couple of days when I’m home to get my list up to shape. Right off the bat, I found birds
The chaffinch added some color and song into the woods, and were commonly encountered.
The ever present European blackbird, a member of the thrush family, rustled everywhere in the woods.
Whereas, the Eurpoean Robin, not a member of the thrush family, also sang from the trees.
There are lots of tits in Europe, some exposed and some that like to remain concealed. Coal tits were high in the trees. Of course the cold weather brought out the blue tits….(LOL) We saw a lot of families of Great tits including this immature one.
The first woodpecker seen was a Great spotted woodpecker.
I birded the sea and saw all my expected seabirds from here and I found a northern wheatear which didn’t sit still enough for a photo…
we got Lesser Black-backed gull
The common black-headed gull is common here, their common gull is our Mew gull and they were also everywhere but I didn’t really get a good photograph
we saw photogenic Arctic terns unlike those in Alaska
Great Crested Grebes,,,
We also saw great cormorants, gray heron, common eider, common goldeneye, and common terns at the sea, well at least the archipelago.
I needed a break and so we headed off to Mora to pay a visit to the house and museum of my favorite artist Anders Zorn….
Zorn has intrigued me not just because my family originated near here. I have written on his art, used him in historical fiction……and of course, I love his nudes. I cant afford them at a million bucks a pop, so I have to go to the ends of the earth to see them
The museum has over fifty paintings and many etchings and a few statues to enjoy. His Midsommar paintings of Dalarna are also quite enlightening. He even gave his wife Emma a statue of her as his ultimate woman for an anniversary present in their backyard for a fountain.
I also saw jackdaw in his back yard
A nutcracker pair (no picture), and fieldfare everywhereWe drove back towards Stockholm and saw common cranes in the fields, common buzzards, honey buzzards, a marsh harrier and at one stop a very photogenic Arctic Loon
I found a very nice nude beach for birding some regional specialties near Falun Sweden, if needed and if I ever do a big nude birding year in Europe, I’d be back here.
I found icteric warblers, willow warblers and finally I got a photo of the similar wood warbler.
The white wagtails were everywhere
I spotted redstarts which are in the family of wheatears, and continued to walk and walk and walk….10 miles 20 miles, 30 miles…..looking for my woodpecker. I spotted European Pied flycatchers and juveniles
There were green finches in the trees,
The male was blurry and I only got the one chance at them, very pretty birds. I saw Eurasian jays, stonechats, but didn’t get them photographed, the nuthatch in Europe is different.
not to mention the hooded crow
I kept walking, focusing on my goal, the woodpecker, and at times I got lost and even helpful magpies tried to show me the way
I found long-tailed tits but couldn’t get them photographed, just a head and then it rained, I even jumped a tawny owl in the forest and photoed many song thrushes and nearby
…another thrush which dotted the golf course area around this nature preserve. In the end, I had seen 68 species but alas no woodpecker, then on my final photograph of Silja, I could see it in the background…