All the main targets for this Scandinavian clean-up trip were in the bag. This mend that Jelmer could stay in Uppsala , to work on a Talk he had to give in Helsinki two day later, and we could do some Don Quichotting on a peninsula northeast of Skärplinge, about an hour north of Uppsala.
Birding the peninsula proved not very productive, but 8 Black Guillemots (Zwarte zeekoet) were a new species for Sander. Other goodies this morning were displaying Green Sandpipers (Witgat) and Common Snipes (Watersnip), Black-throated Diver (Parelduiker) and several White-tailed Eagles (Zeearend).
Bullfinch and Siskin
In the afternoon we drove to the forests near Ostervala. We still needed to see a Pygmy Owl (Dwerguil), a bird we’d seen only once as a vagrant in the Netherlands. I thought it would be a good tactic to just whistle an imitation of its call at every patch of suitable looking habitat and surely, after about 10 tries, a Pygmy Owl flew in, started calling and gave stupendous views!
Pygmy Owl, by Sander Smit
Pygmy Owl, by Max van Waasdijk
Just before dusk we stopped at a field surrounded by forest on all sides. Jelmer told us this would be a good place to try for calling Pygmy Owls and Ural Owls (Oeraluil) around dusk. While we waited we a Black Woodpecker (Zwarte specht) flew in and as dusk set in several Pygmy Owls started calling. What we did not expect was the magnificent Ural Owl that started hunting right in front of us, adding to the fantastic sighting we had the day before. We are some lucky bastards indeed!
Ural Owl, in the twilight
We decided that we would put all our remaining energy in one last night drive, hopefully resulting in a Lynx sighting…. Yeah right! Barely 15 minutes in Max and I saw a very large Owl swooping over the car and moments later we were looking at our 7th (!) owl species for this trip: Eagle Owl (Oehoe). The night drive of course did not materialize in that elusive grey cat of the north, but another Eagle Owl and 3 European Badgers (Das) were not bad!
Exhausted we hid the sack around 3 AM. We would fly back to Amsterdam the next day. What a fantastic trip this was! All the targets secured, awesome pictures, incredible scenery, good companionship and lots of laughs along the way, and all of that in a five-night!