There can be few birders in Europe who haven’t heard about bird migration at Falsterbo, Sweden – undoubtedly one of the best places in the world to observe migration in the autumn – but I wonder how many birders knew about the original Wings over Falsterbo book, published in 2004? A book which deserved more attention from birders, as not only did it describe the fascinating history of Falsterbo, but it also provided a lot of excellent information about bird migration in general. Nearly 20 years later, Falsterbo Bird Observatory has released a revised, second edition.
The concept of the book has remained the same since the first edition, with detailed chapters covering the topics ‘How do birds migrate?’, dealing with weather, navigation and orientation; ‘The migration calendar at Falsterbo’; and ‘Research at Falsterbo Bird Observatory’ (including sections on ringing, migration counts and environmental monitoring). These chapters have been expanded to reflect new methods and knowledge with sections on radiotelemetry, geolocation and multi-sensor loggers. These methods are explained in easy-to-understand language, using examples from data gathered at Falsterbo and nearby Lund University. Further chapters include a site guide to birding locations on the Falsterbo peninsula, information about the observatory itself and a new chapter about other winged creatures that pass through the area, with nine pages dedicated to insects and bats. The final chapter deals with the species that have been recorded and this information is presented in a month-by-month overview, with the species names in English and Swedish alongside the scientific name. One chapter lacking from the first edition is all the bird names in eight languages, which I did enjoy reading, but its omission doesn’t detract from this second edition.
In my opinion, this is an essential book for anyone interested in bird migration, and the improvements and additions to the second edition certainly make it worth the upgrade for owners of the first edition. The book highlights migration on a scale that most British birders can only dream of seeing in the UK, as well as offering a strong introduction to information on migratory birds and the research around them. Falsterbo is also a great destination for a low-carbon birding trip, being accessible by public transport from Copenhagen central train station in less than 90 minutes. The reviewed edition – which is available in English and Swedish – offers an ideal introduction to the site, either to help you with your trip there or to tempt you into visiting.