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Sweden - Spring Birds & Flowers of Oland

Tour Code: SWE01

A 7-day holiday to enjoy both the breeding birds and spring migrants, as well as the spectacular display of flowering orchids and other plants, to be found on the limestone island of Öland off the east coast of Sweden.

7 days from £1795(inc flights) Land Only Price: £1595 SRS: £250


Oland is a special place. A limestone island lying off Sweden’s east coast, Oland offers a unique blend of natural history and cultural attractions and we’ll go in search of its exceptional flora, special breeding and resident bird life, and rich historical remains. By June, waders such as Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin are breeding in meadows and flat coastal pastures, rarities can be observed as they head north on migration, and spectacular orchid displays should be at their peak – and nowhere are they more splendid than on the Great Alvar Plain. After long leisurely days in search of wildlife, we’ll head back to our charming family-run guesthouse to discuss the day’s finds over Mrs Magnusson’s hearty home-cooked dinners!

  • Ruff, Avocet & Redshank among breeding waders
  • Collared Flycatcher, Montagu’s Harrier & Corncrake are summer visitors
  • White-tailed Eagle seen regularly
  • Late May/early June is best time for migrant rarities such as Red-footed Falcon
  • Alpine, Siberian & southern European plants coexist on the Great Alvar Plain
  • Spectacular & colourful orchid displays
  • Oland Rockrose & Oland Wormwood among plant rarities
  • Iron Age, Stone Age & medieval remains
  • Led by an expert naturalist guide

Food

All included in the price.

Accommodation

A charming and comfortable family-run guesthouse that was formerly a traditional Öland farmhouse built in the classic island style.

Military Orchid (Paul Marshall)

Military Orchid (Paul Marshall)

Outline Itinerary Download

Day 1 Fly Kalmar and transfer to Öland

Day 2/6 A full programme of botanical and birdwatching walks and excursions on the delightful island of Öland

Day 7 Transfer Kalmar; fly London

The limestone island of Öland lies just off the coast of south-eastern Sweden. Although connected by a bridge since 1974, the island’s rugged, rural flavour is quite unique. Like the Orkneys in Britain, Öland has a rich blend of natural, cultural and historic attractions: its Great Alvar Plain, divided by immaculately fashioned dry stone walls; ancient coastal hay meadows and pasturelands; unusual linear villages fashioned in the Middle Ages; many Iron Age, Stone Age and medieval remains; and an exceptional flora and rich birdlife have all earned southern Öland World Heritage status.

The island is particularly well known for its birdlife. By early June a host of breeding waders will have arrived to establish their territories amongst the damp meadows and flat coastal pastures. This land has been cut or grazed over thousands of years, without the use of any fertilisers, and the flora is very rich; by late spring the ground is pink with Bird’s-eye Primroses (Primula farinosa) and a profusion of orchids. Dunlin, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank and Avocet breed in these meadows which, during the early summer, are full of colour and activity. The island’s meadows and woodlands are also the summer home of such localised breeding species as Montagu’s Harrier and Corncrake, as well as Thrush Nightingale, Barred and Icterine Warblers, Collared Flycatcher and Common Rosefinch.

At the southern tip of this long sinuous island lies the famous Ottenby Bird Observatory and Nature Reserve, the oldest bird observatory in Sweden (established in 1946) and a place of pilgrimage for Scandinavian birders. Here, tired spring migrants take a break in the bushy gardens around the old stone lighthouse, or the adjacent meadows, after their 300-kilometre northbound journey across the Baltic Sea. Late May and early June is the best time for rarities from south-east and eastern Europe, with such species as Red-footed Falcon, Marsh Sandpiper, Red-rumped Swallow, Greenish Warbler and Rose-coloured Starling being amongst the more regular of the unusual visitors at this time. The wet meadows to the north-east of the observatory have benefited from centuries of hay-making and grazing. Filled with such typical plants of this habitat as Glossy Eyebright, Common Milkwort, a host of different grasses and sedges, and many orchids, the area is very colourful at this time of year, and also provides a wonderful environment for breeding waders. Inland, and to the west of these meadows, lies Ottenby Wood, the largest deciduous woodland in southern Öland. Here, birch and oak trees dominate and host such rare breeding species as Red-breasted Flycatcher and Golden Oriole, whose songs fill the wood at the time of our visit. To the west of the wood lie the ancient grazing pastures of the Västra Mark. Still grazed today by cattle and sheep, such plants as Burnt-tip Orchid, Yellow Milkvetch, Buckshorn Plantain and Glasswort are common, whilst breeding birds include Oystercatchers, Ringed Plovers, Lapwings, Turnstones, Redshanks, gulls, Little Terns and Northern Wheatears.

The lighthouse gardens and point at Segerstad offers an outstanding spot for incoming migrants and vagrants, as well as a chance for a little sea-watching; here too, delightful flower-filled pastures are filled with breeding waders and the dry stone walls that divide them make ideal resting spots for tired migrants. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded here by our resident guide, perhaps the highest number ever recorded from a private European garden! White-tailed Eagle, Montagu’s Harrier, Caspian and Black Terns are amongst the breeding birds of the region, and such species as Black Stork, plus a host of rare passerine migrants, have been recorded in spring. The most striking characteristic of Öland, though, is the Great Alvar Plain. An alvar occurs on hard limestone bedrock and is a flat area where bare rock breaks through thin soil. The Great Alvar Plain is the largest grazed alvar in the world, and is an extensive limestone plateau strewn with windswept junipers, and granite boulders deposited during the last Ice Age 11,000 years ago. The plateau has been grazed continuously from the Neolithic period until relatively recently, thus, in early summer, this wild area is carpeted by many species of colourful orchids. Further, the thin alvar soil is subject to both extreme drought and flooding, and the plants living here are particularly well adapted to this peculiar and harsh environment in which both alpine and Siberian species live side by side with sunloving species from southern Europe and a number of endemics, including the Öland Rockrose (Helianthemum oelandicum) and Öland Wormwood (Artemisia oelandica).

During the week our superb resident guide, Christian Cederroth, will introduce us to this wealth of flora and birdlife on the peaceful island that he calls home, with the island’s ambience, manageable size and quiet roads ensuring a most leisurely and enjoyable break. 

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P.B.
Surrey
Christian was the best tour leader I have experienced. His passion, preparation, commitment and knowledge couldn't have been better. Some of us could have quite happily spent four days with him in his incredible garden!
J.H.
Gwynedd
This was my first Naturetrek holiday but I cannot imagine a better leader. He was very well equipped which helped us to see more. He knew the island and its wildlife intimately and was able to go to places where we would see the most. Hence, we saw rare visitors, groups of migrants arriving and leaving, nesting birds and their young. He interpreted the bird behaviour so we understood what was going on rather than just spotting species. He also knew just where to go to see the best of the island’s flora. I was aware how hard he worked… We appreciated it
J.P.
Wiltshire
The hotel was very welcoming and comfortable, the quality of the food - excellent and served very attractively. The group leader and the local guide are both very enthusiastic about their subject, helpful and pleasant companions. The trip comprehensively covered the subjects well.
S.P.
Wiltshire
The hotel was very comfortable and of a high standard. The food was locally grown and produced and of a high quality. The group leader and local guide were very knowledgeable, efficient, good with organising the group and generally nice people.
P.P.
Nottingham
This was our third Naturetrek holiday & the second with David Tattersfield as botanist. His knowledge of plants is outstanding. Christian Cedderoth amazed us with his imitation of bird calls.
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DeparturesAvailableCost

Tue 29th May 2018 - Mon 4th June 2018

YES

£1795

more details

Flights: Flights are included in the tour costMore info

Regional Departures: Regional Departures are available. Call 01962 733051 for detailsMore info

Land only cost: £1595 More info

Room sharing options: More info

Visiting: Sweden

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Kerrie Porteous
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01962 733051

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Tour Reviews

Christian was the best tour leader I have experienced. His passion, preparation, commitment and knowledge couldn't have been better. Some of us could have quite happily spent four days with him in his incredible garden!
P.B., Surrey