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Falsterbo 1 – 6 September 2020

Mass migration by the Baltic coast

Ranked number six in the top thirty birding sites in Europe, with over 350 species recorded, Falsterbo should be on everyone’s radar. It has been estimated that around 500 million birds leave Scandinavia every autumn, and most of them pass through Falsterbo at the southern tip of Sweden, before crossing the Øresund to Denmark and far beyond.


Falsterbo is recognised as one of the top birding sites in Europe.

This vast stream of migrants makes the Falsterbo peninsula one of the greatest bird migration watchpoints. Each autumn, literally thousands of passerines including larks, pipits, wagtails, hirundines, thrushes, warblers, flycatchers, finches and buntings pass through each day, providing an amazing spectacle. In September 2019, flocks of hirundines and of yellow wagtails on the golf course at Falsterbo were the most numerous; the constant trickle of calling tree pipits was another feature. Among all this action we may find scarcer species such as wryneck, red-throated pipit, bluethroat, red-backed shrike, icterine warbler, nutcracker or Lapland bunting.

redstartred-backed shrike
Redstart and red-backed shrikes are two migrants we'd hope to find.

Bird of prey hotspot

Falsterbo is particularly famous for raptor migration. The numbers are staggering, with mixed flocks in the hundreds every day. Virtually every European raptor is regularly recorded here, including rarities such as spotted and lesser spotted eagles and pallid harrier.

At the time of our visit honey buzzard numbers will be at a peak, with hundreds passing through on a daily basis, making a seasonal tally of around 5,000. The regular passage of sparrowhawks is a great feature in early September.


The coastal location gives opportunities to look for waders and seaducks.

Meanwhile, on or flying past the shoreline there can be wildfowl such as brent and barnacle geese and pintail. Waders are likely to include grey and golden plovers, little stint, spotted redshank and wood sandpiper. On the sea we look out for eiders, scoters and red-breasted merganser.

A little farther afield we can also look out for whooper swans, white-tailed and golden eagles, red kite, goshawk, white stork, common crane, Caspian tern, eagle owl, black woodpecker, marsh tit and hawfinch, so prepare for a remarkable birdwatching bonanza.

Itinerary

From Copenhagen airport, it is a fairly short drive across the famous Oresund Bridge into Sweden to the charming old village of Falsterbo, within easy reach of the ‘action’. Over the next few days we shall witness the daily spectacle of mass migration from Nabben at the very tip of the peninsula, as well as exploring the local coastline, woods and heathland.

Two days are away from Falsterbo at Lake Krankesjön and Fyledalen nature reserve, the latter a wooded valley with a stream and meadows where fallow deer can be seen. At the end of this spectacular break we return across the bridge to Copenhagen airport for our flight home.

Holiday details

September 2020: we will stay at the Spelabäcken Hotel, also a family-run hotel and in the centre of Falsterbo, with a 'lush and leafy' garden.

Price: £1400 per person in twin room for five nights, Tuesday-Sunday.

Single room supplement: £120

En suite facilities.

What the price includes: return flights to Copenhagen, five nights’ half board en-suite accommodation, all ground transport in Denmark and Sweden, bird checklist and guidance.

What the price excludes: lunches, either shop-bought, in a café or picnic bought from the hotel; drinks with meals; personal spending. Bear in mind that Sweden can be expensive - that's just the way it is.

Flights: Ryanair scheduled flights from London Stansted to Copenhagen.
1 September: FR7384 depart London Stansted 08:40 arrive Copenhagen 11:25
6 September: FR7381 depart Copenhagen 17:30 arrive Stansted 18:25

One group member in September 2020 will fly with easyJet from Bristol and have a night in Copenhagen:
31 August EZY6135 depart Bristol 10:35 arrive Copenhagen 13:30
6 September EZY6136 depart Copenhagen 20:40 arrive Bristol 21:45

This option is also possible, for the remaining two places on the holiday.

Deposit: £300

Maximum number (two leaders): 14

Leaders

Christopher Hall runs his own birdwatching company, New Horizons, though is planning to guide for others and leave the administrative roles behind; this partnership with Honeyguide is a step in that direction. Falsterbo is one of many birdwatching destinations he knows well and was our first choice as a joint project. His wildlife watching tours for a growing ‘family’ of loyal regulars means he has guided over 150 tours worldwide. He has also been a science teacher and run birdwatching evening classes.

Chris Durdin is the driving force behind Honeyguide, running holidays since 1991. For many years he combined this with his work for the RSPB in Eastern England, often the Society’s spokesman, but has been concentrating on Honeyguide full-time since 2009. Chris is the co-author of a book about Norfolk’s cranes and leads monthly guides walks at Norfolk Wildlife Trust's Thorpe Marshes nature reserve. He’s also a barbershop singer. As a naturalist, Chris is an all rounder.

Conservation project

This holiday supports the Stop the Massacre campaign, which campaigns to protect migrant birds on their journeys across Europe. The money will go via BirdLife International's stop illegal bird killing programme. Our visit to Falsterbo is particularly to see migrants, which pour through this part of Sweden into mainland Europe and beyond, reminding us all of the need for bird protection across international boundaries. BirdLife Sweden is a partner in the campaign.


Birdwatchers gather at Falsterbo's tip.


For prices, see Holiday Details at the bottom of the page.

travel aware logo

FCO travel advice for Sweden here.

Wheatear

Wheatear on Falsterbo's foreshore.

Holiday reports

September 2019 holiday report here.

Also Christopher Hall has taken several groups here with New Horizons.

His holiday reports: 2018, 2016 and 2015.

Migrating honey buzzard.

sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk — also a migrant in Scandinavia.

Local habitats include heathland.

pallid harrier

Pallid harriers pass through.

On the sea we look out for eiders (here in eclipse plumage), scoters and red-breasted mergansers.

Falsterbo's lighthouse

Falsterbo's lighthouse, with Rosa rugosa.

Christopher Hall, Falsterbo, 2019.

Chris in Valencia

Chris Durdin

Wildlife and landscape photos by Christopher Hall, unless otherwise noted.

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