Stephen Burch's Birding & Dragonfly Website
Lake Annsjon (Ånnsjön) region - central Sweden
5 - 9 June 2008
By Stephen Burch, England
This time, with some knowledge of the area, I had two main aims. First was of course to see one or more lifers and second was to try for some DSLR pics of the northern species. For lifers, as those with some experience of birding northern Europe will know, getting to grips with many of the specialities is not easy and requires luck, persistence or local knowledge (or preferably a combination of all three). My dwindling realistic target list included Three-toed Woodpecker and Hazel Hen with vague possibilities of Pine Grosbeak and any of the northern owls. In the event, in the absence of any local information on owls, these were non starters.
This was of course a self organised trip on my own, which allowed for some reasonably early starts and prolonged photo/birding sessions!
See also a report on my visit to the same area in 2009.
With the hot midday temperatures on the first two days, birding was particularly slow during that period, with much more activity early on.
A reasonably early start on my second day saw me arriving here in glorious sunny conditions, just as some campers in tents around the lake shore were getting up! The obvious path is shown on the map here. It skirts the east edge of the first lake, then goes between two further lakes before heading up into the wilderness in a north west direction.
Close to the first lake shore, the woods were fairly quiet, but I did pick up a singing male Pied Flycatcher (see red 1 on map) close to the tents. Further on, beyond all the lakes, the path started to go uphill slightly.
Just by chance, I stopped by an obvious clearing on the right of the path which looked a promising spot (see red 2 on map, approximately). Shortly afterwards, a fly over male Hen Harrier seemed promising. I then tried a spot of play-back of a Three-toed Woodpecker recording. Shortly afterwards, a dark possible woodpecker species flew across the clearing and vanished into the trees. It then flew back again over my head, and started drumming nearby! Scrambling to get nearer, I didn't manage to see anything more than glimpses of the bird before it disappeared again. But having located the dead tree on which it was drumming (to the left of the path), I sat down and tried more play-back. Amazingly, this brought the bird back for another drumming session, and I got great views, and even managed some record shots through a gap in the branches of the tree in front! Unfortunately, having moved round to get a better view, the bird could not be made to re-appear again.
After this huge slice of luck, I went a bit further along the track but is seemed very quiet, so I soon headed back the way I had come. Where the path runs close to the shore of the second lake (approx. red 3 on map), I noticed some movement in the sparse trees between the path and the lake and was delighted to see two "spirits of the forest" (as legend has it, apparently) in the form of Siberian Jays, moving reasonably swiftly and silently from tree to tree left to right. Hurrying along the path, and then heading off the track across towards the lake, I almost ended up getting stuck in a bog, but recovered to get a splendid close-up view of one of the birds in a tree right in front of me (with the sun behind me)! Unfortunately, I had the x1.4 TC on the lens, and the auto focus wouldn't lock, so I had to resort to manual. Fortunately the bird stayed just long enough for me to get some reasonable pics:
The Jays then abruptly vanished, but there was one further highlight here - a flock of Crossbill species flew over in the same general area. So three excellent northern species in quick succession - very good going for these regions.
This time, I didn't try this late evening hike, and stayed much closer to the roads and tracks. I made three visits to this site, although the first was a very quick look-see on my way from Trondheim, late in the evening. The second visit was in the middle of one of the hot days, and the whole place was very quiet.
However, persistence eventually paid off on my third visit, in the reasonably early morning of my third day, when the weather was starting to turn. Turning off the E14 by a large supermarket, the road into Storlien goes downhill, just past the supermarket, with small lakes on both sides. Stopping the car here I could hear loud Bluethroat song, but it took me a while to work out where it was coming from - right above me! The bird was singing away from the top of a lamp post! It stayed here for a long time, occasionally moving to a different post, and just once coming down to the ground by the road. The camera angle was not ideal, but I took masses of pics, some of which came out OK - see below.
Next stop after this pleasant interlude was to revisit the pools beyond the caravan park (see map). To reach these, turn right onto a track before crossing the railway. Then go straight-on, avoiding a turn to the right, and go up to and through the caravan park. Shortly afterwards, there are some pools on the right which had changed somewhat since 2002. They were now surrounded by a fence, and seemed from the smell to be settling pools for Storlien's sewage! There was however a large gap in the fence which easily allowed entry. The largest pool to the right of the hut had Wood Sandpipers in varying numbers up to at least five. Also a few Redshank, and a very brief visit from a Red-necked Phalarope. Also a briefly obliging White Wagtail - see below.
In 2002, this pool had several Red-necked Phalaropes, and the brief appearance of a solitary bird this time indicated they were still in the area. There was a larger lake beyond the sewage pools, so I tried walking further along the track, which approached quite closely to the lake, with signs indicating it was a reserve of sorts. In addition to various duck, I was delighted to see several Red-necked Phalaropes (10+). As ever, these birds were very tame and by standing still, they came very close. Unfortunately, the lakeside vegetation prevented clear shots most of the time, but from time to time they emerged very briefly into the open:
Also in the Storlien area, there was a Red-throated Diver on a small lake, near to a group of houses, reached from the track which goes off right from the caravan park approach road.
Nearest to the road is a small lake overlooked by two hides. Nearby is an observation tower which gives good views out over the main lake, to the east. Because it was so accessible, I made several visits to this near part of the reserve. On the small lake there was only a few duck - Teal, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and the odd Wood Sandpiper round the edges - not much to get the pulse racing. In the trees by the lake shore were Pied Flycatcher.
The observation tower was better. The highlight was a very distant pair of Red-necked Grebe in full summer plumage (thanks to a Swedish birder for allowing me to use his 'scope briefly). Also in the distance were Velvet and Common Scoter. Much nearer in were at least two pairs of Slavonian Grebe. One evening, a fishing Osprey appeared briefly. There was also a distant Whimbrel once, as well.
Further on along the board-walk the reserve had limited interest, with the ground seemingly quite dry. The next observation tower (Nätaholmen) gave distant views of two Cranes way out on the marshes. The east-west long straight section of boardwalk had only a Whimbrel (too wary for pics). I didn't get further than the west end of this straight section, where it went back into trees. On the sunny day, this part was also good for dragonflies, with plenty of immature White-faced Darter (quite wary and difficult to photo - very difficult to see in flight) and one Northern Damselfly.
Well after returning from this trip, I discovered another trip report with informantion on the Lake Annsjon area by Fraser Simpson from 2004. He had Broad-billed Sandpiper at the next next hide (Dolparna)! Had I known this at the time of my visit, I might well have pressed on. Whether they were still present in 2008, in the dry conditions, I will probably never know!
Here are some pics which give an idea of the spectacular scenery around Lake Annsjon, but don't really do it justice!
Further on, the track reaches a small river, and emerges onto the Ann reserve, with a further boardwalk. Taking the right fork, I soon came to a small pool which looked promising for dragonflies. Sure enough, when the sun came out briefly, so did a splendid Northern White-faced Darter, or at least I think it is, based on the pics below. Anyone care to comment?
E14 east of
Also there was a fantastic, weird lighting effect one evening when, through the pouring rain, brilliant shafts of light from the low sun appeared on the hills opposite, together with a double rainbow. Difficult to capture digitally, but it was remarkable.
Red-throated Diver - One at Storlien
|© All pictures copyright Stephen Burch|