Sweden (& Norway), Lapland - 20/7/18 to 3/8/18


This was mainly a trekking holiday along the Kungsleden ('King's Trail') in north Sweden. But with a day-trip to Narvik, north Norway, and 2 nights in Stockholm. The Kungsleden is a long-distance path 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle. We walked the northern section from Abisko to Nikkaluokta, covering 108km (67 miles) and taking a leisurely 8 days. This including scaling Kebnekaise; the tallest mountain in Sweden at 2100m. (Ben Nevis is 1300m!) In summer, there is 24-hour long daylight (which takes a while to get used to). I had binoculars, but no Telescope. There is a detailed report of the walk at http://www.opsbirding.co.uk/SwedenTrail.htm

View from top of ski-lift at Abisko and looking back along valley just walked up from Tjaktja pass. (The scale of the valleys is not conveyed in the photos !!)


2018 was the hottest and driest summer that Sweden has ever had, so the temperatures were a very pleasant 20-27 deg C by day and on only one night (camping at a height of 1100m) did it get down to 3 deg C. (It is quite usual to snow here in July/August.) This is an area of permafrost, with Reindeer being the only 'farming' and tundra-type terrain. Most of the time we were at or above the tree-line. Birch is the main tree, but these are stunted, with occasional firs. The mountain-tops are partially snow-covered, and there are many Glaciers. The melt-water from these create fast-flowing rivers (great for getting drinking/cooking water, but can be difficult to cross.)

View looking forward down valley from Tjaktja pass towards Salka and from Salka towards Kebnekaise.


Before the walk I spent a day in Kiruna (a weird mining town, famous for being moved building-by-building just down the road as the old town has been under-mined), and a day in Abisko National Park (which has great potential and I wish I had spent longer in). After the walk I had a day-trip to Narvik, in Norway, by train and 2 days in Stockholm.

The following is a list of just the birds of interest. (Some common birds omitted.)

Red-throated Diver
Family group of 5 & another in flight from the bird hide at Bird Hill ("Fager Kullen"), Abisko. Also heard calling from Abisko campsite at night.

Black-throated Diver
Group of 3 & another 2 in flight on Radujavri lake between Abiskojaure and Alesjaure.

Tufted Duck
8 with Scaup on Abeskojavri lake between Abisko and Abiskojaure.

Flock of c20 on Abeskojavri lake between Abisko and Abiskojaure.

5 with Scaup on Abeskojavri lake between Abisko and Abiskojaure.

Long-tailed Duck
2 in rapids on Alisjavri lake near Alesjaure. Female with 4 young on mountain lake just before Tjaktja.

Common Scoter
4 on Radujavri lake between Aiskojaure and Alesjaure.

Velvet Scoter
Male seen on water then in flight on Alisjavri lake near Alesjaure.

Rough-legged Buzzard
Commonest raptor. One carrying prey from bird hide at Bird Hill, Abisko. Singles/pairs seen most days, often hovering.

White-tailed Eagle
Juvenile flew along High Street in Narvik (Norway), mobbed by noisy Common Gulls. (Told by resident that they nest on mountain overlooking town.)

Golden Eagle
Only one seen, despite continued scanning of mountain ridges. Seen briefly 3 times, mobbed by Buzzard/Raven, over ridge of Siellanjunni, near Mount Giron, Abiskojaure.

One high over top of Slattatjakka Sloahtta, at top of ski-lift in Abisko - alerted to its prescence by alarm calls of L-T Skuas.

Females seen with 4-8 young most days, from Alesjaure to Salka. Mostly walking around the mountain huts oblivious to people ! Photo below on right is an adult on right, with 5 juvs dust-bathing in centre and another on left. At Salka mountain station.


Willow Grouse
A few seen/heard in birch scrub after Alesjaure.

Golden Plover
Up to 5 seen/heard most days, nesting near path in valley bottoms.

Temminck's Stint
Best sighting of the trip, I think. An adult with 3 or 4 tiny young right next to path in a boggy area, at 11pm (when all normal walkers were in their tents !) Yellow legs seen clearly.
Video here, showing adult and juv creeping through grass at bottom of screen.

Below is a photo of one of the tiny fluffy juvs..

One singing from rock in boggy area - not heard that before ! On first day of walk, Abisko to Abiskojaure.

Wood Sandpiper
4 on Isbladskärret marsh in Djurgarden, Stockholm.

Red-necked Phalarope
Only one seen on mountain pool just before Tjaktja (despite all other pools checked).

Long-tailed Skua
Groups of 4 to 6 (up to 10) nesting in mountain valleys most days. 4 or 5 small young seen on ground, and one flying juvenile. Only food seen being taken was insects on ground, but several hovering (like Kestrel) and presumably hunting Lemmings.



Common Gull
Unexpectedly nesting in mountains (by lakes/rivers), and 2 present at summit of Kebnekaise (2100m) ! The only gull seen in the north.

Arctic Tern
Not as common as expected; only 3 seen, on lake by Alesjaure.

Short-eared Owl
Lots of exciting owls to see in the area, but the only species spotted was one SE Owl flying right over my tent in light midnight sky 3km south of Abiskojaure.

Yellow Wagtail
A male seen by mountain stream 5km south of Abisko. Thought at time it was 'Feldegg' ('Black-headed'), but 'Thunbergi' (Grey-headed) is most likely here. Several fems/juvs seen.

Seen several times (inc. juvs.) on mountain streams, around Abisko.

First 3 juvs. seen near Alesjaure. 8 juvs seen to west of Kebnekaise mountain station. Only one adult seen, and only the back of that briefly !

Fem/juvs seen at Abisko National Park.

Several families seen in mountain valleys. One male, I thought at time was Black-eared Wheatear. But they are not seen anywhere near here, so it remains a mystery.

Ring Ouzel
Song and some calls heard in mountains.

Odd to see them hoping round town parks, as per Song Thrush in UK.

A few seen/heard in birch woods.

Willow Warbler
The only warbler seen in the north, and not common.

Pied Flycatcher
Male, Female and 2 juvs. seen in park (grass with a few scattered small trees) in Kiruna.

Willow Tit
A few in birch woods, inc. 8 along path from Kebnekaise to Nikkaluokta. (Failed to find any Siberian Tits.)

A few pairs in mountains, inc. 2 at summit of Kebnekaise.

Hooded Crow
The crow of the region.

Tree Sparrow
Many in town of Kiruna (even though distribution maps don't show them this far north).

Many family groups in birch woods in valleys.

The commonest finch in birch woods.

Common Redpoll (ssp 'Mealy Redpoll')
Commonly seen, including right up in the highest mountain passes.

Snow Bunting
4 at Tjatka pass (highest point on path), including one hopping around near the tent. One drinking from stream on walk up Kebnekaise mountain.

As well as the birds, I also saw a few Lenmmings (with lovely golden-brown backs) running between boulders under/by the path, 11 Reindeer near Tjatka pass, and 2 Hares on the grass outside the stf station at Kiruna.


In winter, this area is completely covered with 2-3 metres of snow, so it is quite amazing that there are so many other insects; Dark Green Fritilliaries, grasshoppers, Wood Ants and of course many mosquitoes ! Also frogs up high in the mountain valleys.



The lakes and streams contain Arctic Char,

Also lots of Alpine flowers, that I still need to identify.



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Last revised: 10 August 2018.