We stopped over again at Vestre Jakobselv where a single Short-eared Owl was one of only two I saw on the whole trip. first stop was still in Finland. The feeder at the campsite attracted a dozen Mealy Redpoll but nothing that looked good enough for Arctic.
We left Norway heading for Rovaniemi close to the Swedish border. Rovaniemi is on the Arctic Circle and has a large shopping mall devoted to Santa Claus and is the HQ for the Santa Claus post office where all letters sent to Santa end up. Of more immediate interest to me was a large landfill site just down the 78 towards Kivitaipale which had a wintering Steppe Eagle. I had directions from Jan and specific instructions not to drive in to the tip even if the external barrier was open. I arrived at the tip in light rain and parked by the external barrier, which was open, I then had a 3km walk to the inner fence surrounding the tip. As a neared the tip I saw at least 30 Raven and 50 Hooded Crows along with parties of Common Gulls. There was no way in to the tip so it meant viewing over the fence, I soon picked up 2 distant eagles but they were just dots several kilometres away. There was a single car park outside the gates and after 30 minutes or so the occupants returned who were three Finnish birders. They had been round the edge of the tip and confirmed that my two distant eagles were Golden but they hadn't seen the Steppe. The offered me a lift back to the outer barrier which I gladly took, as we approached the outer barrier we now found that it had been closed which was the reason the Jan had advised not to drive in which now proved excellent advice as I parted from the 3 Finns who were now stranded inside the barrier.
It rained almost continuously for the next couple of days so other than posting cards from Santas Post Office and visiting the Polar Museum in Rovaniemi there was not much else to do so we headed off for Sweden.
I made a visit to Gammelstadsviken, a small nature reserve where a Grey (Red) Phalarope had been reported but saw very little other than a few flocks of Little Gulls and several Pied Flycatcher and had what was virtually my only encounter with significant numbers of mosquitoes which kept Pam in the van.
Continuing south on the E4 we stopped briefly at the Skuleskogen National Park which was very busy and with a single track boardwalk not easy to get round. We finally stopped at the Mavikens campsite near Mjallom where the sky finally cleared and we enjoyed several days of sunshine and summer like warmth!
There were at least 6 pairs of Slavonian Grebes close to the campsite which had already started their post breeding moult. It was difficult to know where they were in the breeding cycle as all the birds seemed to be in pairs and there was quite a bit of threat displaying and chasing.
|Slavonian Grebe - threat display|
|Slavonian Grebe - fighting|
On the lake I also had a pair of Velvet Scoter,and several Red-breasted Merganser and Eider. The woodland were strangely quiet with no Chiffchaff or Willow Warbler singing and just the odd Whitethroat and Pied Flycatcher around the campsite.
Further south we had our first juvenile Osprey just north of Vallvik where we stopped overnight.
|Osprey - juvenile|
A Willow Warbler was notable here in that I hadn't seen or heard any for awhile.
As we neared Stockholm we spent a couple of nights at Vaxholm. Here there were several Honey Buzzard, Marsh Harrier, Crested Tits, White Wagtails with young and a few Greylag and Barnacle Geese.
Remaing on the E4 we crossed the southern tip of Sweden stopping at the huge Vattern Lake where it was very windy and the only birds of note were Red Kites.
Heading towards Malmo and the crossing to Copenhagen we were passing so close to Falsterbo that I couldn't resist having a look at this migration hot spot. I saw no birds of real note but Swifts were in large numbers over the village and perhaps already looking to head south.
We crossed 'The Bridge' made famous by the TV crime series of the same name then stopped in Copenhagen before driving across Germany and catching the Hook of Holland to Harwich ferry ending a fantastic journey around northern Europe and completing my two year birdwatching trip around all the hotspots of mainland Europe.