Max exploring Ottenby Bird Observatory

Hey dear Birders and Ringers,


Since I have now been here at the bird observatory in Ottenby, Sweden for nearly one month and had an interesting and funny time, I wanted to share a bit of my experience with you.


The observatory itself is situated on the most southern tip of the island Öland on the eastern coast of Sweden. The island is shaped by extensive cultural landscape and plays an important role as breeding location for many agricultural bird species such as Montagu’s Harriers or Barred Warblers. Following the Swedish eastern coastline southwards, migrating birds from northern and central Scandinavia are gathering every year on this cape to stop and forage to do the big step over the east Sea. That is what makes it a excellent place to study bird migration, from goldcrests to sparrow hawks …


Regarding the actual bird catching, the observatory has been running a standardized program running with usual mist nets and Helgoland traps since 1946. The results of this long study are very interesting and meaningful especially concerning population fluctuations of diverse bird species. Apart from the standardised program during the mornings, waders are caught in traps along the shoreline (dunlins, knots, ringed plovers, curlew sandpipers, little stints etc.) until the end of August, raptors such as rough-legged and common buzzards in traps and Tengmalm’s and long-eared owls, different duck and gull species during the night.


Over the last weeks, migration has been constantly increasing, we had until now one day with over 600 catches per day. The catching rate is however strongly depending on the actual weather situation on the cape or in the region. Common species caught are among others robins, goldcrests, willow warblers, chiffchaffs, blue and great tits, pied and spotted flycatchers, sedge warblers, lesser and common whitethroats, blackcaps, white and yellow wagtails, song thrushes and sparrow hawks. However the composition was of course constantly changing over the last weeks. Quite rare catches were so far a merlin, a grey partridge, red-breasted flycatchers, yellow-browed warblers, one dusky warbler and a little bunting.


Time here is passing quite fast since there is a regular daily routine. Nonetheless the good atmosphere within the ringing team, the awesome Swedish food (coffee and cake seriously every day), the variation of bird species and last but not least the special landscape around the cape makes every moment special.


I am really looking forward to the next 3 weeks when migration is increasing, to see some more new species especially northern birds like common redpolls or lapland buntings and maybe one or the other surprise. I am grateful for the experience so far and the knowledge which is generously and professionally passed on. Ett stort tack till Ottenby fågelstation! A lot of knowledge and information regarding bird sex/age identification, scientifical work or just about the daily ringing is also shared on the bird observatory’s homepage !

Pictures may tell more than words … (wow that sounded cheesy) Of course I would really recommend visiting the place to anyone who can distinguish between a robin and a red breasted flycatcher !


Greetings from Ottenby!


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