Lake Tåkern is a lake in Östergötland county, Sweden. It is considered one of northern Europe's foremost bird lakes. It is 12 km (7.5 mi) long and 8 km (5 mi) wide, with an average depth only 0.8 metres (2.6 ft). The lake lies around 20 km (12.4 mi) west of Mjölby, bordering in the west to Omberg The whole lake, with the surrounding beaches, has been a nature reserve since 1975. From April to the end of July, it is not open to the public, except for visiting areas and walking routes.
The lake's history as a birdlake is related to the lake's water level lowering between 1842-1844. A number of bird species benefitted from this. A change of the water level in the 1960s was made to prevent large differences in the water level.
Tåkern is listed in Ramsar convention an international convention for protection of valuable wetlands.
The Tåkern bird lake lies in
the Östergötland cultivated flatlands immediately east of the famous rock Omberg
and the large
lake Vättern. Tåkern is one of Europe’s most important breeding and resting places for many species. About 270 species have been seen here and about 120 species breed. The lake and its near surroundings have been established as a nature reserve (54 km2), and it is also a Ramsar-area. Tåkern is really just a hollow in the landscape – ca 44 km2 big, but only 0.8m deep. It is surrounded by impressive reedbeds. Altogether it is north Europe’s larges reedbed (1500ha), which means that reedbed birds have a substantial presence. There are bird-rich shore meadows around the lake, about 450ha, and marshy or waterlogged shore woods (about 560ha). The shore meadows are kept open thanks to economic support for animal grazing. Tåkern is attractive for a visit during the breeding and migration seasons. The best times to visit the lake are May/June and September/October. There are four visiting areas at the lake – Glänås, Väversunda, Svälinge and Hov. There are observatory towers and hides, parking, picnic tables and litter bins.
There are boardwalks at Glänås and Svälinge.
This time of year is peak
activity among Tåkern’s breeding species. In June many orchids are flowering on
the shore meadows. The best possibilities to see the birds are at Glänås and
Svälinge. Boardwalks pass through and within the otherwise inaccessible
reedbeds. Marsh Harriers are a common sight: about 45 pairs breed at Tåkern.
Great Bitterns (ca 40 males) boom in the reeds and you can sometimes see flying
birds in June. Great Reed Warblers (ca 180 pairs) sit tight and sing loudly. It
is a good place for Bearded Tits (about 150 pairs) that peer inquisitively from
the reeds. Water Rails lurk in the reed edges and grunt. At both Svälinge and
Glänås the boardwalks also go out onto the open grazed shore meadows. Here there
are breeding Lapwings, Redshanks and Snipe. A few pairs of Oystercatcher and
Curlew usually breed on the adjacent fields. Meadow Pipits and
Yellow Wagtails also breed on the meadows. Between the reeds and the meadows there is often open water,
the so-called ’blue edge’. In May, Spotted Redshank, Ruff, Greenshank, Wood Sandpiper, among others, rest here. There are also many species of dabbling duck, such as Gadwall, Shoveler and Garganey. In these areas Black and Common
Terns search for small fish. Black Terns have one of their largest inland sites at Tåkern, with 10-20 pairs. Ospreys, among others, breed in the shore woods, and can often be seen hunting over the lake. Hobbies also breed in the area. In the birch and willow parts of the shore woods at Glänås and Svälinge there are also many pairs of Penduline Tits.
Tåkern is visited by most of the dabbling ducks and waders
during autumn. About 2000 Mute Swans can be found at
the lake early in autumn, together with thousands of Pochard
and Coots. Tåkern is perhaps best known as one of the most
important resting places for Bean Geese. They are most numerous
in the middle of October, with about 10,000. Within the
flocks there are individual Tundra Bean Geese, Greater and Lesser white-fronted Geese, Pink-footed Geese and Barnacle Geese.
A few thousand Cranes also normally rest at this time.
Visiting areas at Tåkern
Glänås in the south. A road leads from the parking down to the
observation tower. From there is a magnificent view over the
cultural landscape, reeds and a large part of the lake (see photo).
There is a small information point here, and guide tours leave at
the weekends. From the tower a 2-km long boardwalk leads
through the shore woods, out over the open calcareous meadows
and through the reedbeds to a smaller observation tower.
There are also a couple of hides.
Svälinge in the north. A 1-km long path leads from the parking
area to an observation tower. The path goes along the Mjölna
river, the lake’s outlet. From a small observation tower there is a
view over the meadows and water flocks.
Hov in the east. It is about 200 m from the parking down to
the observation tower. The path and tower are accessible to the
disabled. Hov is the number one autumn bird locality at
Tåkern. At the end of September and beginning of November it
is possible to experience ’the big lift’, when thousands of geese
fly at dawn every morning towards the surrounding fields to
feed. At Hov there is also a good chance to see resting Great
Bitterns, waders, ducks and birds of prey.
Väversunda in the west. It is a short walk from the parking
down to a platform with disabled access. Väversunda is at its
best in May, when many waders dispaly over the meadows,
including Redshanks, Lapwings and Snipe. During the light
summer evenings Spotted Crake and sometimes the rare Great
Snipe are performing. There are many Greylag families on the