Alan Dalton post's birding diaries and original artwork from Sweden. Established in 2006, this now long running blog is now a complete overview of my birding experiences. As an artist I greatly enjoy sketching birds in the field and you will find a wide selection of that work here, from fieldwork to finished paintings. I am very passionate about my artwork and try to depict birds in their natural habitat, as I see them in the wild. My artwork is for sale and can be viewed at http://www.alandalton.net/
As regards to my photography, since 2008 I have used a Nikon D90 DSLR camera coupled with a Sigma 150-500mm OS lens for since March 2012 for bird photography, all previous images being digiscoped. Regarding sound recording, I have been usung a Telinga Stereo Dat Mic and parabol to record birds in the field, coupled to a Marrantz 661 digital recorder, a superb piece of kit. Interest in butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies has recently seen the accquisition of a Sigma 150mm macro lens. I hope you enjoy the blog and please feel free to leave comments or contact me at alandltn@gmail.com

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Recent Sketches; September 2018

 Wood Sandpiper; Fieldsketches

 Reed Bunting; Fieldsketch and notes

 Wood Sandpiper; Pencil Drawing from field work

 Northern Wheatear; Fieldsketches

 Magnolia Warbler; Pencil drawing

 White Wagtail; Fieldsketch

 Bluethroat; Pencil drawing from fieldwork

Bluethroat; Fieldsketches and notes of juvenile male.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Visible Migration at Landsort; 8th-9th September 2018

 A Sparrowhawk on the hunt for tired passerines, one of many of these wonderful accipters seen over the two days spent on the island..

Landsort is without a doubt my favourite birding location in Sweden. There are venues with greater numbers of migrants, such as Falsterbo or Öland. I greatly enjoy all kinds of birds and birding, though I must admit, that the thrill of both spring and autumn birding is what I really enjoy. In particular, it is the spectacle of migration that really appeals most to me and there is nothing better than watching streams of birds actively migrating. Landsort offers a diverse array of species on good numbers, on occasion the numbers can be staggering. Best of all, you may well have the island all to yourself, or as is generally the case, be one of a small number of birder's present to enjoy the spectacle. I decided to visit for the weekend on this occasion on the strength of a reasonable weather forecast with light southeasterly winds, which always puts you in with a good chance of a decent bird or two amongst the more regular species.


 Landsort Fyren; The lighthouse that looms over Sodra Udden is generally my favourite location to watch migration from, on this visit I was here on both morning logging migrating birds as they passed south.

I arrived on the Friday evening ferry in order to be able to be at Sodra Udden before the sun came over the horizon. Migration starts at first light and often the best passerine movements occur in the first few hours of daylight. I booked accomadation at Landsort Fågelstation, a modest, but very comfortable bird observatory which has recently been refurbished. It is ideally located on the island for both the ringers to work the mist nets in Bredmar, the area around the building, but also for those interested in viewing migration from either the north or south of the island.
 Pre dawn found me at the lighthouse at the southern tip of the island. As the sun rose the first flocks of White Wagtails passed directly overhead. Passage of these familiar birds was quite heavy and I settled in to start counting the birds as the first Tree Pipits began to pass southwards overhead. At sea, the first Common Scoter, Eider and waders began to pass, a small group of Red Knot being an early highlight. Small groups of Dunling were then picked up before a Greater Scaup passed among a flock of Scoter, a decent bird here, though regular in September. The first flocks of mixed dabbling duck then streamed by, mixed flocks of Pintail and Wigeon. The early part of the morning was dominated by flocks of White Wagtails moving south, calling constantly as they went. Listening carefully is the order of the day, in order to locate birds moving south, as well as to pick out any more unusual species that may pass over. Landsort is an quite wonderful place to familiarize yourself with the calls of migrating passerines, with a huge range of species occuring here over the average autumn. On this particular morning however, diversity was quite low and the wagtails dominated the scene. A few Chaffinch, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit and Goldcrest were the exception on this morning, though passage at sea was a different story.
  As the sun rose over the horizon and the clock crept past 09.00am, the passerines overhead dried up and the passage over the sea began to pick up. As the morning went on the flocks of duck moving around the southern tip of Sodra Udden became increasingly more frequent and soon it became apparent that three species were moving in exceptional numbers, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Common Scoter. Time after time, scanning with the binoculars revealed flocks of birds moving steadily south, many of which were mixed, carrying other species amongst them. Streams of Cormorant were also moving through over the sea throughout. A real highlight was a Garganey, quite unexpected and a good island record on passage. The bird was among a flock of Eurasian Wigeon, happily, one of the closer flocks that passed during the morning. A Grey Plover, a small flock of Golden Plover and a few Shoveler were also noted as the flocks streamed by. In the end it was a remarkable morning, culminating in a amazing sight as a huge flock of Eurasian Wigeon flew past, a huge group of 820 birds. Northern Pintail were also present in exceptional numbers, a thousand birds would be logged on a remarkable morning of passage.
 Just before I left the lighthouse, there was one more little twist. A familiar call came from the bushes below, the unmistakable call of a Yellow browed Warbler. This little warbler is the epitomy of autumn migration and was my earliest ever. It gave brief views before moving to the large lighouse garden where I lost it. A very welcome end to the morning indeed.
 I returned to the observatory a happy man. Ringing have been modest, with few migrants around there, though I still decided to have a look around after a bite to eat. The returns were modest, a few Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest were picked up. I spent a quite evening logging a few more duck moving south in a bunker to the back of the observatory, with a few Golden Plover and Bar tailed Godbit proved the highlight. After a long day, it was time for a hot meal and then off to bed early in anticipation of the flowwing morning..

Bird totals for 8th September;
172 Cormorant, 846 White Wagtail, 9 Tree Pipit, 16 Chaffinch, 4 Meadow Pipit, 10 Sparrowhawk, 4 Siskin, 1 Yellow browed Warbler, 3 Linnet, 5 Willow Warbler, 12 Goldcrest, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Northern Wheatear, 34 Velvet Scoter, 8 Red Knot, 3 Tufted Duck, 32 Eider, 1 Garganey, 22 Red breasted Merganser, 97 Dunlin, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Oystercatcher, 1,873 Wigeon, 55 Teal, 7 Golden Plover, 11 Arctic Tern, 1,437Common Scoter, 999 Pintail, 1 Black throated Diver, 6 Shoveler, 1 Bar tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover.


 Just before dawn approaching Sodra Udden at this magical birding location...

Sunday morning saw me up at the same time and return to Sodra Udden, though this time in the company of Mika Åsberg and Mattias, the extra eyes most welcome. I helps greatly to have a small group to scan for birds, as often there is a lot of birds streaming overhead and at sea. Again the sun rose on a lovely clear moring and the first flocks of White Wagtails started to stream past in front of us. Tree Pipits were more in evidence and passerine passage was heavier than the previous day. A Yellow Wagtail went over, then Sikin and Chaffinch. The sea was quiet at first, though an early group of Common Scoter and Eider went past as we settled down. It soon became apparent that there was a heavier passage of passerines overhead than the previous morning. Landsort is rather unpredictable in some ways and no two days are the same with regard to the passage of birds. It seemed a small change in the wind direction had led to a heavier pasage of passerines, whilst the sea would remain fairly quite throughout. Overhead, the birds streamed over and we settled in to see what would be amongst them.
 White Wagtails made up the bulk of the passage once again, though the passage was heavier than the previous morning. As flock after flock passed in front of us to the west of the light house, other calls alerted us to the presence of other species. There were more Tree Pipit here for sure, whilst Song Thrush was picked up early on calling. A huge juvenile Goshawk drifted past early on, eyeballing us as she passed, a real highlight. A Wood Sandpiper flew over high up, calling as it went. As the morning went on, we finally struck gold. Among the Wagtails there was a rasping call and we both clocked it second time around. A Richard's Pipit! The bird was seen as it flew past, calling several times. A really good species to pick up and we were both very happy. A few minutes later, the familiar hiss of a Red throated Pipit was the icing on the cake, a decent passage species on the island and my first of the autumn as it happened. Then came a wonderful flock of Common Crossbill, which spent some time flying around the lighouse before decided not to migrate out over the sea, instead they moved northwards back up the island. We called it a day around noon as passage over the sea did not materialize and grabbed a bite to eat. I was leaving on the afternoon ferry and just had time to check the bushes around the observatory where I was treated to lovely views of a juvenile Hobby before packing up and heading for the ferry. A wonderful weekend birding at an incredible venue.


 A juvenile Hobby which was present on the second day of the visit, one of many regular migrant species seen in good numbers on this baltic island.

Bird totals for 9th September
85 Cormorant, 332 Common Scoter, 23 Red breasted Merganser, 207 Wigeon, 60 Pintail, 31 Teal, 5 Sandwich Tern(all juvenile), 175 Common Eider, 4 Greater Scaup, 37 Velvet Scoter, 2 Black throated Diver, 1 Whimbrel, 32 Oystercatcher, 1,295 White Wagtail, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Song Thrush, 29 Tree Pipit, 1 Goshawk, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 8 Meadow Pipit, 7 Siskin, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Heron, 3 White tailed Eagle, 1 RICHARD'S PIPIT, 1 Red throated Pipit, 11 Common Crossbill.


 Waders were still in evidence, though often distantly and a decent scope helped with identifikation. Here a small group of Golden Plovers carries two Bar tailed Godwit in their midst.


Awiting sunrise on day two, always a time of excitement, as one wonders what the coming dawn will bring in the way of birds. On occasion, the visible migration here can be staggering, as thousands of birds stream south alond the coast.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Birding at Ågesta Reserve; Early September




Latest video footage from Ågesta Reserve has now been edited and uploaded. A very nice early autumn morning at the reserve with three classic autumn species...

Recent Fieldsketches; September 2018

 Bluethroat; Black ballpoint biro, Ågesta


 Redshank; Black ballpoint biro; Sandemar Reserve


 Yellow Wagtail; HB Pencil; Ågesta Reserve


 Tree Pipit; HB Pencil; Landsort


Red backed Shrike; HB Pencil; Ågesta Reserve

A few recent pieces of fieldwork from the sketchpad, which I have been making efforts to get back into the habit of using. Generally, leaving the DSLR behind and just bringing a digiscoping camera, which is less bulky, means that I spend more time looking at the birds I see in the field. Hopefully, a lot more of this to come this autumn as I have enjoyed drawing again very much.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ågesta; 26th August 2018

 Ågesta


 Whinchat; Juvenle


 Tree Sparrow


 Red backed Shrike were feeding around Mysvik and giving superb views as they did so. The light was good and I decided to make an effort to digiscope the five juveniles present.
















A cracking morning spent at Ågesta Nature Reserve. On arrival I spent some time at Mysvik and almost immediately my main target species was in the bag as I found a Bluethroat foraging around the area. It quickly became apparent it was not alone, with at least three birds present. As usual, they were difficult to photograph and I had to be content with excellent views. It had a real feel of autumn this morning, with Yellow Wagtails in the fields and Tree Pipits on the move. Red back Shrikes were very much in evidence, along with some pristine juvenile Whichat. I enjoyed all these at my leisure. Another treat at the lake came in the form of a perched Hobby, which was making sallies out over the lake after Dragonflies. I watched the bird for some time before moving along. A Marsh Harrier was the best at the pumphouse, though a lot of Swallow were moving south overhead. Autumn is now very much in the air....




Sunday, August 12, 2018

Caspian Gull; Skeppsbron; Stockholm; 12th August 2018




























Images here of a stunning juvenile Caspian Gull from Skeppsbron today, a cracking find by Dirk Van Gainsberg. He rang me as soon as he was sure of the identification and I was able to get there quickly and gain 40 minutes with th bird, which showed very well, as is typical at this site.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Sound Recordings; Hällögern, Västerbotten; July 2018


Black-throated Loon

Eurasian Oystercatcher


Eurasian Kestrel

Red Crosbill 'type D' flight calls

Red Crosbill 'type C' flight calls



A selection of the latest sound recording I have made during my stay on the island of Hällögern, Västerbotten. High summer is not the best time to be birding at this location and opportunities for sound recording are not great. In addition, there is much noise pollotion in the area due to boat engines, jet skiing, human disturbance and chainsaws. Nevertheless, some decent recordings have been downloaded to Xeno-Canto in the last few days, which I have posted here. The Black-throated Loon and Crossbill recording were recorded in the early hours after sunrise, which is currently at 03.00am. The Kestrels are breeding on the island, as are a pair of Oystercatcher, which have recently fledged a single juvenile.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Heliophanus Sp.; Hällögern; Västerbotten; 18th July 2018

 Spent a while with this individual, which was actively hunting on a lichen covered rock face, a fascinating creature to spend time with...



 View of the upperparts. Tiny, but built like a tank, a fearsome minature predator.

 A stunning little beast, around 3mm long in total...

Note the pale stripes on the palps and legs here, which led me to wonder if this was Heliophanus cupreus. 


Photos here of a the second jumping spider species I have unearthed on the island on this visit. This obliging individual was actively hunting on the face of a large, lichen covered rock. Specific identification in this genus is notoriously difficult and requires viewing the genitals under a microscope. Many thanks to Raul Vicente for his help with this cracking little jumping spider...


High Brown Fritillary(Argynnis adippe); Hällögern; Västerbotten; 18th July 2018











Delighted to finally pin down this stunning fritillary species today. Distinguishing between Dark Green Fritillary and High Brown Fritillary id difficult and good views of the resting insect are required. For the past eight days a number of fast flying fritillary's have frustrated me by remaining constantly airborne. The increasing heat and also an increase in wind may have help, as this morning I found three of these stunning butterflies feeding in a sheltered, sunny corner.
 The species is widespead here in Sweden.