Thousands of Common Cranes Lured by Scanian Wetlands

Bird-watching – sustainable tourism in Scania

Southern Sweden has seven major bird-watching sites out of which two are situated in Scania: Falsterbo and Kristianstad’s Vattenriket wetlands. Falsterbo is situated on a picturesque peninsula in the southwestern corner of Scania. This peninsula, a popular tourist resort and the last strip of land before crossing the sea to northern Germany, offer a safe passage for migrating birds each spring and autumn. Out of 500 million migrating birds most choose this passage that makes Falsterbo one of Europe’s foremost bird migrating sites. Especially migration of predators gathers a lot of interest.

Kristianstad’s Vattenriket wetlands is another rich bird sanctuary with a particular interest towards the common crane that arrive in thousands to rest in the shallow waters and feed on the fields. The area is also rich in predators like the sea eagle, osprey and kite. The varied landscape include woodlands, wetlands, dunes, shorelines and moors that form a nesting area for swans, geese, waders, ducks, Eurasian bittern, Ruff, Savi’s warbler, Pied avocet, European serin, Caspian tern, Black-tailed Godwits, the Southern Dunlin, Garganey, Montagu’s harrier and many more typical for this region.

The spring arrives with the common crane

The Western European population of common crane has expanded over recent years and the number of migrating birds over Scania has therefore also increased. The spring passage in the end of March and early April bring large flocks from Southern Europe to rest and feed at the fields of Pulken. The daily count can be up to 7000 birds that normally stay for 3 days or longer, depending on the weather conditions, before they continue their flight further north.

The cranes look for both safe waters and a chance to feed on newly sowed barley and wheat fields. Without taking protective measures the growing number of visiting cranes causes damages to the farmers. Therefore the farmers have, in collaboration with the authorities, started feeding the birds on designated fields whereby some 500 – 700 kg’s of harvested barley seed is spread out mechanically every day.

The feeding of the birds brings them together and offers a magnificent show of dancing birds that attract both domestic and international visitors. Professional photographers show up early in the morning followed by the larger audience later in the day. Pulken provide for good parking space and a bird watching tower with an excellent view of the birds. The area is easily approached and suitable for disabled persons, too. Representatives from the Vattenriket biosphere organization and the local bird association provide for telescopes and information to the visitors. A field camera is separately sending live pictures through the Internet. For access please visit the website of Kristianstad Vattenriket. A specific buss excursion to the sight is also organized.

Kristianstad’s Vattenriket Biosphere Reserve

This biosphere reserve was formed 10 years ago as a result of collaboration with UNESCO; see my previous article on the subject “Kristianstad Converts a Risk into a Major Opportunity”. The Naturum Visitor Centre today serve more than 150.000 visitors every year taking part in its unforgettable guided activities including eagle and crane watching, water safaris, exhibitions, hiking, bird watching or e.g. fishing offer seasonal activities all year around. The reserve offers 22 well-managed sites to visit, all with their distinct characteristics and something for the whole family to enjoy.

Kristianstad’s Vattenriket is a paradise for birdwatchers due to the varied nature of the landscape. Some 225 species of birds can be found nesting within or close to the wetlands, several of them red-listed as nationally endangered species. The stork that disappeared from Scania in 1954 has also been reinstalled during recent years. The wetlands are protected by the international Ramsar convention, by EU Natura 2000 and national legislation.

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