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Lapland must surely be the mostevocative, exciting and intriguingregion of Scandinavia. Home to thenomadic, reindeer-herding Saami people, itis synonymous with inhospitablewilderness - a wild, untamed yetspectacular upland landscape, accessibleonly in high summer, outside winter's longand icy grip. It is the high summer, too,when the region's avian visitors move in tobreed, capitalising on a phenomenalabundance of insect-life during a shortseason. It is these charismatic birds, andthe magnificent scenery, that epitomisethis holiday and, in combination with thetaigaand wetland birds that we also hopeto see, our itinerary offers acomprehensive range of Swedish birdspecialities that includes owls,woodpeckers, grouse and the mountainspecialities of Lapland.We begin, and end, in the lowlands ofcentral Sweden: in Svartådalen andBerslagen. Here, attractive farmland issurrounded by lush oak forests, and lakesand wetlands lie amongst meadows andpasturelands, grazed by cattle and sheepin time-honoured fashion. Colourful,summer-plumaged Slavonian Grebes,Common Cranes, White-tailed Eagles,Ospreys and Black Terns characterise thewetlands, whilst Honey Buzzards andGoshawks, seven species of woodpecker(including Three-toed, Grey-headed andBlack) and such passerines as Red-backed Shrike, Icterine Warbler, ThrushNightingale, Common Rosefinch andOrtolan Bunting breed commonly. Herealso lives the Great Grey Owl, thatenigmatic taigaspecies more oftenassociated with the landscape, dominated by coniferous forest, into which we will shortly be heading. Thismost sought-after and spectacular of birds can seem remarkably oblivious tohuman presence, and we will pray for acalm night and memorable views! We willalso look for Pygmy Owl, plus bothTengmalm's and Ural Owls whose owletswe will hope to see ringed when we visittheir nesting sites. Next we drive north towards the southernpart of Lapland and the Scandinavianmountain range known as 'the Scands',passing through the farmland valleys ofDalarna and up towards scenic Lake Siljan. This is a culturally rich region ofSweden, endowed with traditionalarchitecture, craft industries and folklore.The landscape now begins to changedramatically and our first stop amongstthe mountains will be in Fulufjället NationalPark. Here, a walk that takes us to adramatic gorge with a high waterfall mayproduce our first Rough-legged Buzzards,Siberian Jays and Siberian Tits, whilstGreenshanks breed beside the park'svisitors' centre. On Nipfjället, the first ofthe truly barren mountains, we will look forWhimbrel, Ptarmigan and Snow Bunting,whilst Golden Eagles are always likelyabove the rocky slopes. Lower down, wewill drive through valleys where Red-throated and Black-throated Divers, Velvet and Common Scoters, Long-tailedDucks, Wood Sandpipers and CommonCranes all breed on the small lakes andpools by the roadside. Here we are alsolikely to encounter our first Reindeer,though a great many more will be seen in the mountains.The Funäsdalen region, the southernoutpost of Lapland's special avifauna, willbe the highpoint of our tour. We will spendthree days here amongst its fresh air,beautiful scenery and northern birdlife,based in a mountainside hotel aroundwhich Bluethroats sing during both dayand night. Climbing above the birch forestto the open tundra, we will enjoy a day'swalk on Flatruet. This is a high mountainplateau with an interesting high alpine floraand fauna, where confiding Willow Grouse,Ptarmigan, Dotterels, Red-neckedPhalaropes, Temminck's Stints, Long-tailedSkuas and both Snow and LaplandBuntings, all resplendent in full breedingattire, are amongst the many breedingspecies. Above, Golden Eagles, Rough-legged Buzzards, Hen Harriers andMerlins command the skies ... and, wherethe mountains rise dramatically to formsteep cliffs, we will look out for majesticGyr Falcons which sometimes breed in thearea, as do both Short-eared and HawkOwls during good Lemming years. At thefoot of the mountains we will explore thetaigaforest - home to Hazel Grouse,Hawk Owls, Three-toed Woodpeckers,Siberian Jays and Parrot Crossbills - andwe may cross the border into Norway toenhance our chances of a Gyr Falcon.Finally, at night (although darkness neverdescends on these latitudes at thisseason!), we will enjoy one ofScandinavia's finest shows ... at the lek ofthe Great Snipe. Here, on an alpinemeadow at the foot of a great mountain,they perform their peculiar song anddance display, seemingly unaware of ourhuman presence. After a wonderful time in this magicalalpine environment, we must reluctantlyreturn south, perhaps stopping to look forEagle Owl and Blyth's Reed Warbler enroute. Back in Svartådalen (the Black RiverValley) for our final night, we have achance to catch up with any of the owls,woodpeckers or wetland birds that we mayhave missed on our initial visit, and anoption to enjoy some night-time birding insearch of such species as Corncrake,Spotted Crake and Marsh Warbler! Sweden's Upland BirdsAn 8-day holiday to Västmanland and southern Lapland in search of lowland forest and wetlandbirds, plus the charismatic avifauna of the magnificent upland and wilderness regions of Sweden. Thursday 30th May - Thursday 6th June Cost: £1,695Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationNORWAYSTOCKHOLMÄLVDALEN FULUFJÄLLETNATIONAL PARKTÄNNÄS, FUNÄSDALENIDREGÅRDENVÄSTERÅSSVARTÅDALENSWEDENOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Västerås (Stockholm);transfer Svartådalen.Day 2Svartådalen and Dalarna;overnight Älvdalen.Day 3/5Fulufjället National Park,then Flatruet plateau;overnight Tännäs,Funäsdalen.Day 6Taiga forest, Nipfjälletand Norway; overnightIdregården.Day 7Svartådalen.Day 8Transfer Västerås(Stockholm) and flyLondon.AccommodationComfortable tourist hotels, somewith private facilities. FoodAll included in the price.GradingA/B. As well as gentle walks throughthe woods and pastures of thelowlands, this holiday also includesboth full-day and half-day walks inthe mountains, so an enjoyment ofwalking and a reasonable level offitness are required. All walks,however, are optional. FocusBirds and other natural history.LeaderDaniel Green.Single room supplement£170.Web quick search: SWE07143Great Grey OwlLapland BuntingLapland tundra

On occasion, we all need a breakfrom the frenetic pace of modernlife. If you feel the need to retreatinto the wilderness for a while and swapbusy roads and concrete jungles forsweeping mountain vistas, smallpicturesque villages and birdsong, then thisnew tour to Swedish Lapland may be justthe break you're looking for. The village ofAmmarnäs lies on the edge of theVindelfjällen Nature Reserve, the largestprotected area in the country, covering over560,000 hectares. This vast untamedwilderness of mountains, lakes, rushingrivers and extensive taiga forests is not onlyhome to some of Scandinavia's mostsought-after boreal birds, but also home toEurope's only remaining indigenous people,the Sami.On this tour we will mix birdwatching withthe opportunity to learn about thefascinating lifestyle of the Sami people, andour itinerary includes a night at Geunja, aSami settlement located deep in thewilderness which we will access by boat.We will explore the upland landscape onfoot in search of such birds as Dotterel,Broad-billed Sandpiper, Gyr Falcon andBluethroat, as well as listen for Tengmalm'sand Hawk Owls in the woodlands near ourhotel. We start, however, with a flight fromLondon to Stockholm where we transfer tothe peaceful meadows, forests andwetlands of Svartådalen (the Black RiverValley) for one night. We will spend theevening looking for the magnificent GreatGrey Owl, before returning to the airport thefollowing morning to fly north to the smallairport of Arvidsjaur, located just south ofthe Arctic Circle. From here we transfer tothe attractive village of Ammarnäs where wewill be based for five of our six remainingnights in Sweden. For the next two days we will explore themountains, forests and lakes surroundingAmmarnäs on foot, by minibus and also byboat. The taiga forests are home toCapercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Three-toedWoodpecker, Waxwing, Redwing andBrambling, plus the two sought-after 'Sibes',the Siberian Jay and Siberian Tit. As weclimb higher, the conifers and birchgradually thin out to reveal an uplandhabitat more akin to the Arctic tundra furthernorth. Here Dotterel and Long-tailed Skuabreed alongside Ring Ouzel, Ptarmigan and Lapland Bunting. Vindelfjällen is alsoone of the Swedish strongholds for ArcticFox. Lakes, pools and wet mires dot thissweeping landscape, providing ideal habitatfor a variety of waterbirds and wadersincluding Black-throated Diver, Commonand Velvet Scoters, Red-necked Phalarope,Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper and, iffortunate, perhaps Temminck's Stint andBroad-billed Sandpiper. Ammarnässummers are blessed with wonderfully lightnights, so for those with energy still to sparewe will offer after-dinner excursions to watchlekking Great Snipe and to look forTengmalm's and Hawk Owls.We will break our stay in Ammarnäs with anight deep in the wilderness in the ancientSami settlement of Geunja. Our Sami guidewill meet us on the shore of Lake Tjulträskand then escort us by boat past Black-throated Divers and Slavonian Grebes, toGeunja. Here, surrounded by mountains andon the edge of a beautiful upland lake, wewill spend the night in a traditional 'kata' - awooden tipi constructed by the villagers forvisiting groups. This is a truly remote andspectacular spot; mobile phones are uselessand the afore-mentioned modern world willseem but a distant memory. We'll enjoy thissolitude while eating traditional Sami food,and listening to stories about the Sami's rich history and culture as well as theirfascinating Reindeer-herding lifestyle.Naturally we won't be neglecting the wildlife,and a short walk to a nearby wetland and alonger hike into the hills may yield Bluethroat,northern Yellow Wagtail (of the thunbergirace) and perhaps even a breeding SpottedRedshank. Gyr Falcon and Golden Eagle arealso likely; however, it would take a degree ofgood fortune to find any more than thefootprints, and other tantalising signs, of theBrown Bear and Wolverine which also inhabitthis remote realm.Leaving the Sami behind we'll return to ourAmmarnäs hotel, complete with its electricityand plumbing, for a final two nights. This willgive us a last opportunity to enjoy the localbirdlife, as well as to join a scientist from thelocal wildlife research station who will takeus back up into the mountains for a finalvisit. The following morning we must say ourfarewells to the wilderness before, refreshedand revitalised, returning to Arvidsjaur airportto begin our journey home. Lapland - Sweden's MountainBirds & Sami People An 8-day birdwatching and cultural holiday to Swedish Lapland, including the opportunity to spend a night in a Sami settlement deep in the wilderness. Tuesday 11th June - Tuesday 18th June Cost: £2,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Stockholm andtransfer Svartådalen.Day 2Fly Arvidsjaur andtransfer Ammarnäs.Day 3/4Ammarnäs.Day 5Geunja.Day 6/7Ammarnäs.Day 8Fly London.AccommodationComfortable hotel/guesthouse inAmmarnäs and Svartådalen, bothwith private facilities. Basic butcomfortable traditional wooden'kata' in Geunja where facilities areshared. FoodAll included in the price, except forlunches on Days 1 and 8. GradingGrade A. Easy wildlife walks.FocusBirds, other wildlife and Samiculture. LeaderDaniel Green.Single room supplementOn request.Web quick search: SWE11144Call now or visit www.naturetrek.co.ukfor your free Trip ItineraryPITEAARVIDSJAUR AMMARNÄSSWEDISHLAPLANDSWEDENGULFOFBOTHNIANORWAYSTOCKHOLM FULUFJÄLLETNATIONAL PARKSVARTÅDALENSami settlement, GeunjaHawk OwlSiberian Tit