The bottle uncork’d

Wet, wet, wet; wind and floods too. A depression that the weather boys missed in their forecast hit us on Saturday and we got off lightly with some water coming through the porch roof. That seemed to be due to a combination of the deluge and storm-force winds working to prove that water can flow uphill but a lot of other people woke to flooded basements, overflowing drains and cars in metre-deep puddles. It’s just about passed now and, after two dull, cloudy days the skies cleared today to treat us to a bright, sunny and cooler afternoon.

Golden Eagle over the garden

One of the reasons that I enjoy this place so much is the wealth of natural wonders and I could bore for the Nation about it. In autumn, birds migrating south in Scandinavia travel down a landmass that gets narrower below a line drawn roughly between Oslo in the west and Stockholm in the east. It narrows again, by about two-thirds, when they get to Skåne so the numbers are concentrated into a smaller area. It’s a bit like sand running out of a funnel and, where we are, the sky at this time of year is often full of birds flying overhead in a more-or-less south-westerly direction. The general movement south starts slowly in July and gets frantic through to September and October and experts know what to expect is on the way through at various times in that period. The weather affects things so if there are depressions, like this week for example, or strong winds the general flow can be disrupted. Birds seek shelter, go to ground or just stay put but when the weather breaks it’s like drawing a cork from a bottle and the flow starts again, often in a great rush. Today was such a day.

This morning the strong winds had gone but there was still low cloud and a constant, heavy drizzle of rain that rendered everything dull and thoroughly depressing. No birds overhead and, unusually, not much to be seen in the garden. When it eventually cleared up I strolled down to the end to look over Fyledalen. As the sun came out an adult Golden Eagle was soaring just above with two Common Buzzards and a Kestrel moving it along. They were taking advantage of the improvement in the weather and, as there were more Buzzards in the distance, a cycle ride around the village was called for. I counted over forty species in the few remaining hours of daylight; the highlights included four more Golden Eagles, two Honey Buzzards, four Hobbies, two Marsh Harriers and over twenty Common Buzzards. Those aside, there was also a Wryneck, twenty-two Red-backed Shrikes and a group of over twenty Spotted Flycatchers.

The principal watchpoint is Falsterbo, at the extreme south-western tip of the country. Migration here often involves huge numbers of birds; often more than are seen anywhere else in the world. A reasonable estimate of the total number that passes through southern Sweden each autumn puts the figure at around 500 million. A lot of them fly right over my garden and many spend some time in it.


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