Stora Karlsö has been on our list of things to do for some time and last week we got the chance to visit.
Stora Karlsö is a magical place to get away from the crowds, we were lucky in that there were few people staying on the island and no day-trippers in the three days we spent here.
28/5 arrival on the island and afternoon birding
The speedy ferry takes just over half an hour to rush us from Klintehamn to the island. As we near the place the large numbers of razorbills and guillemots becomes apparent. After settling in to our accommodation we all head out for a walk around the west side of the island. At the top of the steps to the lighthouse we are greeted by a song-flighting barred warbler, a splendid sight. Rosefinches and thrush nightingales sang lustily and the sun shone down. Having completed a leisurely circuit it becomes apparent that any migrant woodland passerines were going to be drawn to the big trees around the accommodation at Norderhamn and Hien. I walked these areas again, finding a pair of barred warblers, a red-backed shrike and a late brambling. The best bird though was a hawfinch, flushed from the ground in amongst the scrub at Norderhamn and watched perched in a tree before flying off. [This was to be our best find - not recorded since 2008 and few records before that.] As dusk gathered we enjoyed the hubbub of the nearby auk cliffs and watched as pairs of velvet scoter took exploratory flights into the interior of the island.
29/5 a full day on the island
This was our only full day on the island and it rained through the night and on through the morning. This did nt deter us from tramping about though. A slight fall of spotted flycatchers and red-backed shrikes was evident and we also found two singing male marsh warblers and a female black redstart. The barred warblers performed well and we got great views of various rosefinches.
30/5 last morning
Getting up early to search the cover around the accommodation was a pleasure this morning but the hard work produced little reward, a singing cuckoo being the most exciting new arrival on the island. As we boarded the ferry we heard of a red-breasted flycatcher at Hien, but by then it was too late. It was a shame that there was no organised method of sharing information on the island. There was a whiteboard but it just contained a retrospective list of the best birds seen each day, with no observer names or locations for the birds, which was rather frustrating.
A fantastic place and we all want to go back for a longer stay one day.