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The Moskogen experiment! A new good location for watching caspian gulls in Sweden!

Uppdaterat: 11 aug. 2021

During winter 2020/2021 I´ve been trying a new gull watching spot, Moskogens waste facility, located around 1,3 miles west from Kalmar! This is the biggest? waste facility in the landscape of Smaland and I think it´s also where pretty much of the household waste in eastern Smaland goes to! So it was really exciting to try doing some vistis! I already knew that some other birders (Tobias Berger, Harald Persson and more) hade tried the locality before, only with brief visits, but really good results! Like here with 2 2cy caspians the 21 May, showing a good potential for the locality! And also this stunner, the 19:th mars the same year! This was only the third Iceland gull for the landscape of Smaland, which really made me wonder how many stunning gulls that could have been unnoticed during the years.... So with all this in my mind, I just started the experiment! The only problem was that the facility was camera-monitored and striktly curfewed... But when I got there for the first time, I realised that there was no problem doing gull watching if you just stay in the edge of the area and is walking in the woods! So then I was ready!!

Pretty much in some of the first visits to the locality I found a 1cy caspian gull ( and also a 4cy bird ( which are rare winter visitor in Kalmar (so far....). 4 days later I had 2 1cy birds ( and that would be the highest number I`ve reached as well during my other visits in late december and january! With this number, as well as really good counts with other gulls, I thought that during the real gull-times from July-October, it really must be a gull-party here! And there and then I said to myself, that this summer I just have to try finding a yellow-legged gull (if so the 3-4:th ever for Smaland!!).

After a loooong spring with way to much photography and no gulls, I was really excited to start this very new and revolutionary experiment for gull-watching in the landscape of Smaland! The season started the 11:th July for my part, when I found a nice 2cy bird at Moskogens waste facility! ( I was out looking for the first 1cy birds this day, but got home empty handed unfortunately... But still, I already had a 2cy in the bag, with one visit!

(In total I had 3 different 2cy birds (after plumage examination) around Kalmar in July. Pictures above shows a female bird that was around the harbour in Kalmar during the evening of the 25:th July).

It passed by 6 days, before I headed to the gulls again, and this time I was really happy to find 2 nice 1cy birds ( Jipppiee! Now the stone was rolling ;) After that I made a visit the 19:th July with 2 1cy birds and then when I was there again the 23:th July, I realised that I was stuck in the so called "gull-swamp" (in swedish "trutträsket"). And what a day it was going to be! After running around the facility, sneaking through the trees searching for good angles and more I could stop at the amaxing number of 8 1cy birds and 1 2cy, sitting at the same roof at the same time! Wow! The previous record for the landscape was 3 1cy birds from Tjärhovet (located around the harbour in Kalmar) last year in august, so this truly was something spectacular! I was jumping of happiness, after planning this project since this winter!

(Pictures from the previous record of 3 1cy birds at the same time at Kalmar harbour during august 2020).

What should I do know, when I already had chrushed the record in July? I just had to keep on going and watch if I could find even more caspians, and also that yellow-legged gull.....

Next time, I arrived at the evening of the 25:th July, together with Per-Göran Svensson! First bird we saw was a 1cy caspian.... Second bird we saw was a 1cy caspian.... Whaaat is going on, I told PG!? This is totally crazy? I think we may do a new record today as well! And after walking around the facility for some hours, we had a new record! At least 12 1cy birds! Wow, this is brutal! I was almost in chock!

With good photo-material, I think that the wingunderside-pattern can be really good too seperate 1cy gulls between, if they look pretty same judged to all other characters! But it should also be mentioned that feathers can look diffrent in diffrent conditions, after a gull has been taking a bath etc. Here´s at least 6 diffrent 1cy birds that I´ve used wingunderside-pattern combined with lightness around head/breast/belly, shape of bill, any worn primaries etc. to get the result. I´ve used both right-hand and left-hand wings, but as you can see I have divided the birds into three diffrent pairs that were pretty similar to each other, and these pairs have been matched with the same wing.

Moskogen, Kalmar, Sweden 2021-07-25

Moskogen, Kalmar, Sweden 2021-07-25

The darkest 1cy bird I´ve ever seen! Moskogen, Kalmar, Sweden 2021-07-25

The darkest 1cy bird I´ve ever seen! Moskogen, Kalmar, Sweden 2021-07-25

With the caspian record in Kalmar beaten, I thought about how it actually looks with gulls in the rest of eastern Smaland? Is it more waste facilities/dumps along the coast that could attract gulls? Doing some research on "Artportalen" as well as looking at Google maps fantastic satellite photos, I found some actually! But to attract great amounts of gulls, it must be some bigger waste facilites. So I find out that Västervik and Oskarshamn are two bigger cities with many inhabitants in eastern Smaland, and by that there must be bigger amounts of thrash on their dumps as well. Looking at the statistics for caspian gull and other rare gulls at "Artportalen", I found out that there was very very few records of caspian gull in these parts of the landscape, compared to Kalmar which probably has 90% or more of the records. Oskarshamn and Västervik are two cities that have a good location as well for caspians, theoretically! So one very exciting day, sunday the 1:st august to be more exact, I took the car and drove north to these two exciting places. First of all i visited the dump in Oskarshamn, which is located almost beside the main road. And already from there I could see almost 100 gulls. Yes, this was going to be very interesting! Spending some hours at the thrash trying to locate where the gulls mostly where hanging around, to get as good numbers as possible, I could at last count in 5 diffrent 1cy birds by photo-comparison. I did it again! What a great feeling to explore something totally new and succeed with it! With this great feeling I went to Västervik, trying to find more caspians! Spending around 1,5 hour at the thrash there I could´nt almost find a single gull.... I talked to local birder Mathias Salmonsson the day before, and he said that he could see gulls flying by towards the dump every day, from his house located nearby. So it clearly was a total disaster. I tried the coastal areas around central Västervik as well to see if the gulls may have been there more during the days, and on the dump at other times, but it seemed like there was absolutely no gulls at all this day in Västervik. Maybe it just occasional gull-flocks that comes in from the sea to feed? I don´t know! But I really hope that someone else tries to watch the gulls at the dump during these days!

Photo comparison of 4 diffrent 1cy birds. I´ve compared many photos of each individual to be sure that all are diffrent! Read more about how I compare diffrent individuals in the other collage above!

I´ve been going to Moskogen 3 more times now (until 7 august) and had 6-7 1cy caspians at best! I will move to Halmstad around 20:th of august and still have´t found the yellow-legged gull, but I still have some time left! During my latest visits I have had better and better encounters with the caspians, and below I will show a broad material of pictures that Im really happy with! Enjoy!

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