The shallow and nutrient-rich lake Prästsjön is more reminiscent of the famous southern Swedish flatland lakes than the vegetation-poor lakes so common to northern Sweden. Prästsjön is an extremely unusual lake! With its strategic location just a stone’s throw from the city of Umeå, a black-headed gull colony teeming with life and several rare nesting birds, the lake offers unique opportunities for birding.
Prästsjön has been famous for its rich birding since the 1930s. In the early 20th century when the black-headed gulls began to move north, it was no surprise that their first nests in northern Sweden appeared here. For the last 30 years, black-headed gull populations have been declining in many parts of Sweden, but with around 300 pairs, Prästsjön is still home to one of the most important colonies in Västerbotten. Prästsjön is full of activity, especially in late May and June. The colony has made Prästsjön the fanstastic birding lake that it is.
The gulls scare away predators with their aggressive squawking, but they have nothing against other birds building nests nearby. In this way, their constant noise making protects many other species.
This includes the horned grebe, a rare nesting bird in Västerbotten. Several pairs nest on the lake. Most years, the perimeter of the black-headed gull colony also has a few pairs of the rare little gull, which only nests in Sweden in Västerbotten and Norrbotten. The lake’s other regular nesting birds include the tufted duck, mallard, goldeneye, widgeon and the teal. On rare occasions, coots have also nested on the lake, and they may return again. Spring migration Prästsjön is also worth a visit earlier in the year. Goldeneye, tufted duck, mallard, teal and ruff gather here before they continue their migration north. During this time, birders may occasionally catch sight of smew, shoveler, garganey, red-necked phalarope and red-necked grebe. Many exciting discoveries await!
The little gull differs from black-headed gulls with their smaller size, curved wings, charcoal black cap and the black undersides of their wings.