Tåkern has to be experienced

Most people that know me, also know that I idolize pilots and cats. Pilots, for their visual acuity – and cats for their world renown patience. I own a cat, but we have a hard time reaching a state of mutual understanding and harmony. But it isn’t such a big issue. The cat gets to eat and I get to study its patience on a daily basis. A win-win situation, without any bonuses, to put it simple.


Most people that know me, also know that I will do whatever it takes to spot a rare bird. I could go on for hours about all the occasions when I have violated the social conventions and contracts, in order to run off on account of a rare bird sighting. I reckon it’s a talent I have, to be able to feel the cosmic vibrations that go off when a certain bird decides to grace a chosen spot with its presence.


Yesterday, I woke up at dawn. My body was trembling and I jumped out of bed, gripped the backpack that always sits ready and neatly packed at my bedside. Every fiber in my body was singing – the holy grail of my bird spotting life was about to land at Tåkern: The Lesser Grey Shrike.


This is a somewhat problematic bird species for me. In 2005, it was sighted at Tåkern – by my bird watching nemesis and greatest competitor. I was on my way, but was stalled due to a flat tire around Motala Motor Museum – and I had to realize that the battle was over for me, while my competitor got all the glory in the bird watching community. I have yet to heal my bruises from this appalling experience. But this time, justice was to be done!

"Had my innate bird radar misguided me or am I just using the Lesser Grey Shrike as a reason to keep returning to Tåkern, time after time – just to enjoy this place?"

- Åke from Närke

I left my mid-Swedish home behind me and started my journey towards beautiful Östergötland. When I passed Motala, I raised my fist as a gesture of unforgettable anger and regret – and in Vadstena, I took a break in order to enjoy the view over the castle. In Borghamn, I visited the old church yard where a tombstone is placed in memory of a dog – and contemplated my next move.


When I finally arrived at Tåkern, I went straight to the bird watching towers that are placed around naturum. Sure, it is mainly a place for ordinary people and not advanced bird watchers as myself, but the towers surely have their perks.


At the visitors’ area at Hov a multitude of wild geese flew over my head. And at Svälinge, I had to chase away a beaver that was slapping its tail at the otherwise calm lake surface, where a couple of swans were trying to enjoy the moment. Here, I also got to experience the Redshank – a personal favorite of mine – in its natural habitat. And at Väversunda I got to meet the magnificent Crake, listen to the sweet song of the Marsh Warbler and watch a couple of hundred Common Snipes.


But the Lesser Grey Shrike was nowhere to be seen. Had my innate bird radar misguided me? Or was the reason simply psychological? What if I just use the Lesser Grey Shrike as a reason to keep returning to Tåkern, time after time – just to enjoy this place?


The more I think about it, the less I feel like I want to spot the Lesser Grey Shrike. Maybe I want it to remain a dream, a vision and a reason to go to Tåkern and enjoy everything else this place has to offer?


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