The summer is a fabulous time to visit northern Sweden. The days are long – 24-hours long – and if you are lucky it will be mild and sunny. It’s unlikely to be hot, with an average temperature of 11 degrees Celsius but that makes great weather for walking and exploring. The landscape changes often but not much is steep, so it is easy to wander around, keeping an eye and an ear out for birds.
Many birds return to the north to breed from places much further south – the UK, southern Europe, even Africa and, during the summer, there are lots to see. Wikipedia says there are an amazing 519 species of birds in Sweden and, though you won’t of course see all of them on one trip, here are a few you are quite likely to see in Abisko National Park:
The terrain is very varied so there are moorland birds, fresh water birds on the lakes, raptors, woodland and even sea birds flying over. There are raptors too such as Gyr falcon and rough-legged bustard. Where the river Abiskojåkka empties out into Lake Torneträsk is a great place to see birds, particularly waders like:
Some names differ between Britain/Europe and North America – divers in Europe are called loons in North America. Look out for a red throated diver/loon and other divers too. Listen for their iconic sound!
Some birds are here all year round and some are migrants who come in summer to breed. Birds familiar from much further south include redpolls, willow warblers and brambling.
Others will be less well known – the Lapland Longspur for example. This bird, also know as a Lapland Bunting, has a striking head pattern, chestnut nape and chestnut wing panel. You’ll find them here from May to September and much further south the rest of the year, including the east coast of England.
One of our favourite birds (and definitely a popular one with bird-watchers and hikers here) is the Bluethroat. It is particularly famous because it mimics other birds and sounds – sometimes even the trains – so listen out for it. Our local nature centre, Naturum, has reports of Bluethroats mimicking the sound of the goat herders’ bells on the Himalayan slopes though we wonder if it isn’t the reindeer bells it is trying to copy! It is the size of a robin but with the beautifully distinct blue throat that gives it its name.
Here are a few more birds you might see:
Naturum, the national park’s nature centre, has lots more information about the local birds. This is walking country so there should be great opportunities for bird-watching and you have 24 hours a day to look for them!
Thanks to Wikipedia for the photos.