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It is just a short international flight fromStansted to Västerås and a drive of lessthan an hour to the tranquil andbeautiful forests of central Sweden, hometo such mammals as Elk, Wolf, Lynx andBrown Bear, all long since extinct in theBritish Isles. It is these sought-afteranimals on which we will focus during thisfascinating 5-day holiday amongst thescenic lakes and dense forests ofSweden's Bergslagen and Hälsinglandregions, in both of which these largermammals far outnumber the local human population. Our guide, Marcus Eldh, lives in theseforests and spends much of his timetracking and watching its 4-leggedinhabitants, to which he is deeply devoted.He will lead us on foot through the forestsusing only the animal trails, and will sharewith us his knowledge of tracking both Elkand Wolves and demonstrate various waysof communicating with them, some ofwhich have been used by the region'shunters for thousands of years. It is amagical experience to hear thesecreatures respond, and Marcus has hadgreat success calling to local Wolf packsover the years.On arrival at Västerås (a small airport tothe west of Stockholm with a tiny, sparklingand uncongested terminal likely to takelittle more than a few minutes tonegotiate!), we head north into the forestsof Bergslagen to the small, family-run,Udden Guesthouse which overlooks atranquil lake. This delightful guesthouse isa short drive from the Bergslagen WildlifeResearch Station. Here researchers workto conserve such species as Wolf, Lynxand Brown Bear and we will visit theresearch station during our stay to learnabout their work, and the lives of theserare and secretive predators. On our first evening we will search theforests, by vehicle and on foot, for Elk (orMoose, as it is known in north America),the 'king of the forest' and the mightiest ofall Nordic animals. With a population ofover 400,000, Sweden boasts more Elk persquare kilometre than any other country inthe world, and in these 'royal forests' it ispossible to see 20 or 30 of thesemagnificent animals in an evening, as wellas such other mammals as Roe Deer,Mountain Hare, Red Fox and, veryoccasionally, Wolf. Next day we will explore the forests of theregion, enjoying their birdlife and suchmammals as Red Squirrel. Then, in theevening, we will join beaver-guide MikaelNilsson and head out to the pristineMalingsbo-Kloten Nature Reserve wherethe Beaver is common. Here, as the daydraws to a close and dusk descends, wetake to canoes and paddle down the riversilently in search of the Beavers as theycommence their evening activities. We will spend our third day exploring theterritory of a local Wolf pack, walking in theforests and swamps of the region lookingfor signs and tracks of the pack. A sightingof these Wolves in such dense terrain is ararity but, as dusk falls, we will enjoy dinnerover the camp fire in the heart of the forestand Marcus will call to the pack andendeavour to attract a response - for thehowling of Wolves at night is one of themost memorable experiences that thenatural world has to offer! For our final night in Sweden, we will driveto the lakes and rolling forested hills ofHälsingland for a night in the comfortableBear Hide of our friends Håkan and Eva.The silence and stillness of this magicalplace is intoxicating, broken only by theeerie calls of breeding Black-throatedDivers or the occasional croak of apassing Raven. The Bear Hide is a gentlehour or two's amble up into the forest. Asyou walk, you will need to be as quiet asyou can, but listen to Håkan as he tellsyou a little about the Bears and theirhabits, perhaps pointing out any footprints,or scratching on the trees, or raidedanthills! The hide is cosy, with comfortableseats and viewing slots at the front, andcomfortable beds at the back for those notprepared to sit up all through the night. Atthe far end is a separate toilet with washbasin. We will make ourselves comfortable. and hope for the appearance of a Bearwhilst our ever-attentive host serves usdrinks and dinner. No wonder the Bears(and Bear-watchers) like this place! Sweden's MammalsA 5-day holiday amongst the dense forests and lakes of scenic Bergslagen and Hälsingland, in centralSweden, where we will search for some of Sweden's larger mammals, in particular Elk, Mountain Hare, Beaver, Wolf and Brown Bear. Thursday 4th July - Monday 8th July Cost: £1,295Thursday 5th September - Monday 9th September Cost: £1,295Outline itineraryDay 1Fly Västerås (Stockholm).Transfer Bergslagen. Elk-watching.Day 2Beaver-watching;overnight Bergslagen.Day 3Wolf-tracking andhowling; overnightBergslagen.Day 4Bear-watchingHälsingland; overnightBear Hide.Day 5Transfer Västerås(Stockholm) and flyLondon.Accommodation We stay for three nights in thedelightful Udden Guesthouse on theedge of the Bergslagen forests andoverlooking a large lake. All roomshave private facilities. On our fourthnight we stay in a simple woodenBear Hide in Hälsingland, equippedwith comfortable chairs, beds and atoilet. Food All included in the price, except forlunches on Days 1, 4 and 5 (allow£30). GradingA/B. As well as gentle walks throughthe woods and pastures of thelowlands, this holiday also includeslonger, forest walks, so anenjoyment of walking is required.Focus Mammals (particularly Elk, Wolf,Beaver and Brown Bear).LeadersMarcus Eldh and Håkan Vargas.Single room supplement£80.Web quick search: SWE06146Call now or visit your free Trip ItineraryNORWAYBALTICSEAKALMARGOTLANDÖLANDMALMÖGOTHENBURGSTOCKHOLMVÄSTERÅSBEAR LODGEBERGSLAGENSWEDENElk, BergslagenBrown BearWolf

As the summer draws to a close, thepeaceful forests, lakes and watermeadows of central Sweden act as amagnet for thousands of migrating birdsas they head south through Scandinavia towarmer climes. Huge flocks of BeanGeese and Common Cranes gather in thefarmland, while up to a dozen species ofraptors hunt overhead, from the diminutiveMerlin to the huge White-tailed Eagle.Bluethroat numbers also peak in earlySeptember; these attractive birds spend acouple of weeks in central Swedenfattening up before continuing easttowards their Asian winter haunts. Inaddition to an abundance of migrants, themany resident birds will be active andbusily putting on weight to see themthrough the snowy months ahead. PygmyOwls are at their most vocal in the autumn,and up to six species of woodpecker arepossible in the forests, along withCapercaillie, Hazel Grouse, Nutcracker andCrested Tit. To add variety to this new tour,we will not only focus on the birdlife, butalso enjoy such dragonfly species asBaltic, Azure and Green Hawkers, andseveral interesting butterflies and moths -among them the Camberwell Beauty andLight Crimson Underwing. Mammals, too,will be on the cards, including the mightyElk, the bulls of which will be in primecondition and ready for the autumn rut with a full rack of antlers!We begin with a short flight to Västerås, anhour to the west of Sweden's capital,Stockholm. From here we transfer to thepeaceful meadows, wetlands and forestsof nearby Svartådalen (the Black RiverValley) for a 2-night stay. Flocks of TaigaBean Geese are commonly seen feeding inthe roadside fields along with parties ofCommon Cranes. Hen and Marsh Harrier,Rough-legged Buzzard, White-tailed Eagle,Hobby, Merlin and Peregrine are allpossible overhead, while in the forestsnearby we will look for Nutcrackers, Willowand Crested Tits, Parrot Crossbill, PygmyOwl, grouse and woodpeckers. Thehighlight of our time in Svartådalen,however, will be the evenings at LakeFläcksjön where hundreds of CommonCranes gather to roost each evening. Thesight and sound of these spectacular birdsflying overhead backed by the setting sunis sure to remain in the memory long afterwe return to the UK.We next drive on peaceful, empty roads foraround 150 kilometres to Kvismaren,where we spend two nights. En route wewill stop at an excellent area of forest tolook for the carpenters of the bird world,the woodpeckers. Up to six species canbe seen in this part of Sweden includingBlack, Grey-headed and the elusive Three-toed Woodpecker. The wetlands here arealso home to a variety of dragonfliesincluding Keeled Skimmer and BogHawker, while the forest edges are anexcellent place to search for Elk.The Kvismare Valley - a patchwork offarmland, lakes and restored wetland -attracts up to 20,000 Taiga Bean Geese.Mixed in amongst this mass are smallflocks of Tundra Bean, Barnacle, White-fronted and Pink-footed Geese and eventhe odd Lesser White-fronted Goose.Overhead we must keep a careful watchfor a variety of raptors including many of the species already outlined above, but also Osprey, Honey Buzzard and for the fortunate perhaps even a PallidHarrier, a rare species but one that does move through the valley in smallnumbers at this time of year. On one morning we will join staff from theKvismare bird observatory to watch theringing of Bluethroats and otherpasserines. These beautiful but elusivelittle chats (of the red-spottedScandinavian race) spend a couple ofweeks in central Sweden fattening upbefore continuing on to their winteringgrounds. In addition to Bluethroats,Bearded Tit, Reed Bunting, Red-backedShrike, Redstart, and a variety of warblers,pipits and other species are often caught.The grand finale to our holiday awaits atdusk, for the sight of the Crane roost atLake Fläcksjön was only a mere taster forthe main crane event! Nearly, 20,000Common Cranes congregate in theKvismare Valley each September and wewill position ourselves under their flight-path at sunset to watch them fly to roost.Backed by the setting sun, the sight offlock after flock of trumpeting cranespassing overhead, joined by equally largenumbers of geese and other waterfowl,must be one of the most breathtakingwildlife spectacles Europe has to offer, anda fitting end to our autumnal exploration ofSweden before we must head back toVästerås to catch our return flight home.Sweden in AutumnA 5-day natural history holiday to central Sweden in search of migrating Common Cranes,geese, Bluethroats and other birds ... plus mammals, dragonflies, butterflies and moths.Thursday 12th September - Monday 16th September Cost: £1,195Book direct on 01962 733051or see page 284 for Booking InformationNORWAYBALTICSEAKALMARGOTLANDÖLANDMALMÖGOTHENBURGSTOCKHOLMVÄSTERÅSSVARTÅDALENKVISMARENSWEDENOutline itineraryDay 1Fly Västerås; transferSvartådalen. Day 2Svartådalen.Day 3/4Kvismaren.Day 5Fly London. AccommodationComfortable hotels andguesthouses; all rooms have privatefacilities.FoodAll included in the price except for lunch on Day 1 and dinner onDay 5.GradingA. Gentle day walks only.FocusBirds, mammals, dragonflies,butterflies and moths.LeaderDaniel Green.Single room supplement£120.Web quick search: SWE10147Common Cranes flying to roostBluethroatPygmy Owl