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

Monday, July 28, 2014

Baltic Gull; 1st Calender; 28th July 2014




 
 
 

A few images of a Baltic Gull, a fresh first calender, from Skeppsholm today. At least 7 first calenders present today, many of which are still being attended by their parents. This bird is more independent and flew into the dock at slussen to preen late in the afternoon, allowing some nice shots and video. Digiscoped with Swarovski ATX 95, Panasonic GH4 and TLS Adaptor, a combination which will help secure nice close ups of more distant gulls this year, as well as allowing top quality video footage to be shot. for reference...

Click here for video footage on the provided link, Close up slow motion footage;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwf8GXlEkWo&list=UUUWm0gG93nKz lG2XotE1F3A

Common Gull; 1st Calender; 28th July 2014





A couple of images from today of 1st calender Common Gull from Skeppsbron. Very fresh plumaged birds, just fledged these. The shots were digiscoped with Swarovski ATX 95, Panasonic GH4 and TLS Adaptor...

Click on the link for some close up, slow motion video of the lower bird...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-BmePDDwAw&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Light mantled Lesser-backed Gull; Graelsii/Intermedius; Skeppsbron; 27th July 2014

Note the light iris, largely yellowish bill and reddish gonydeal spot and clean white head. neck and undercarriage. The tail feather are Clean White and newly moulted, with the exception of the outermost two, which are retained 2nd calender feathers, showing and are darkly marked. The general tone of the grey upperparkts contrasts noticably with the blackish markings on P5-P10. P4 has a rudimentary black fleck of the outer web of the primary near the tip. The primaries show distinct moult, P1.P6 are fresh, whilst the outermost P7-P10 are worn, 2nd generation feathers, note the mirror of P10. Moult is also apparent on the covert's, arounf 70% of the innermost greater and median covert's are fresh, new feathers, contrasting with the older, unmoulted outer covert's, which are worn and brownish toned. Quite a few retained lesser coverts are 2nd generation also, as well as the browninish primary covert's. Half of the secondaries appear fresh, and the new feathers contrast with the older, worn remiges.
 Structurally these birds are of heavier build than Baltic Gull, with a more thickset and deeper chested appearance.


Image here of a 3rd calender Lesser black-backed Gull, a light mantled Greaelsii/Intermedius, This bird was picked up this afternoon at Skeppsbron on my daily check of the site. These light mantled birds are scarce in the Baltic Sea, though recent summers and regulat visits to check the gulls onsite have shown they occur with some regularity in July and August. To date, the vast majority of these birds have been immature.

Baltic Gull; Juvenile; Skeppsbron; 27th July 2014

A classic, fresh plumaged Baltic Gull...

Outer tail is still growing out, though the Classic pattern of the tail is apparent. a nice view here of the upperwing on this warm toned individual. note the small headed appearance, a delicate gull, not so Deep in the breast and already appearing long winged, despite the exremely fresh plumage.

Light of the wing and appearing small headed, with a rather delicate bill. Very fresh plumaged having just left the nest.



Note the tail pattern, dark primaries and rather dark centered greater covert's....

Note the typical. dark markings on the axillaries and underwing...

Another view of the underwing here. Note also the rather long legs...

Direct comparison with a Great Black-backed Gull, which might be Three times the weight of the Baltic Gull. Note the tertails here, dark chocolate Brown with paler fringed tips to the feathers. Classic small headed appearance, dark mask around Eye, long neck and attentuated rear....


At Skeppsbron today, there were three juvenile Baltic Gulls present onsite, two of which allowed some images to be taken, whilst the third bird remained futher out on the water. Always nice to see these beautiful gulls in fresh plumage, the first of the year.

Great Black-backed Gull; Juvenile; Skeppsbron; 27th July 2014









The first juvenile Great Black-backed Gull of the year was present at Skeppsbron today, some Pictures of this rather pale bird here, a very nice, fresh bird...

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sandemar Reserve; 20th July 2014

Red-backed Shrike; This cracking male bird was quite watchful, as it's rather skitish brood of newly fledged young were in the area. It eventually settled and treated me to a scratchy bout of sub song..
These shots, indeed all of them here were digiscoped with the Panasonic GH4, which I am starting to get my head around after some practice...

An adult female here, like it's mate above, it was closely attending it's brood. Both parents were rather showy in fact, whilst the young were flighty and difficult to approach.

Another shot of a stunning bird with the Panasonic GH4....



This Common Redshank has taken to spending much of it's time on the boundaries of it's territory scolding passing hikers and birder's next to a grassy track, from atop various small trees and bushes. I took the chance to grab a series of shots today, in, not exactly a sterotypical pose for this species...





A morning trip to Sandemar Reserve today was decided on ast minute after I woke early in dead heat. July is now coming to an end and wader passage is just begining, I figured it was worth a shot a site which could easily produce a rarity from the east. On arrival the area around the carpark was scanned an revealed a fledged brood of Red-backed Shrike, with five juveniles feeding in the area. Goldfinch were also heer, whilst a juvenile Marsh Harrier went overhead, along with a few parties of migrating Common Swift. Onwards into the reserve, where there were a couple of Common Rosefinch juveniles feeding. Garden Warbler were still singing. whilst a Calling Marsh Warbler was well recieved in thick cover, showing briefly, but well enough to identify it as one of the adult birds.
 I made my way to the observation Tower, no other birders were present there. Careful scanning with the scope revealed a Golden Plover, 27 Wood Sandpipers and 2 Dunlin among the breeding Lapwing, Redshank and Common Snipe.These are the first returning waders I have seen this year and were most welcome. Another feature of the day were White Tailed Eagles, at least five 1st calender, one third calender and a single adult bird were in the area. 380 Greylag goose, 250 Cormorant, common eider and good numbers of Grey Heron were more expected fare, whilst a brief Hobby overhead was better. After the Tower I moved into Hoggarn and spent some time digiscoping both Red-backed Shrike and Redshank. Finally, after plenty of testing and a little practice I am finally getting a better grasp on the settings, the results are getting better.

Click on the link below for video footage of male Red-backed Shrike in 4K;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJLOjNia3-w&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A

Footage here of a scolding Common Redshank;
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Dqsc2OIFO0&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Bittern amd Marsh Harrier, Säbysjön, 9th July 2014



 An adult Bittern flies past the Tower at Säbysjön on a memorable morning. I was rewarded with stunning views of this hard to see species today after an early start this morning...

A great early morning and afternoon birding today at Säbysjön. Norra Järvafältet. On arrival I immediately had lots of Hawfinch and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, as well as Wood Warbler. Mosquitos were unbearable in the woods and made it impossible to stop moving at all, such were their numbers, I made haste for the tower in order to concentrate on my target species, Bittern. On arrival there were several Marsh Harrier in the area, including a brood close by the Tower, which were watched over closely by their parents. A foraging adult female Honey Buzzard was much more unexpected and the bird gave me stunning views for around ten minutes, before it dropped to the ground out of sight. Having arrived at 6am I was hopeful of some early Bittern activity, a pair are breeding at the site this year and have been seen well by a few observers in recent days. The lake was alive with birds. Black headed Gull, Pochard, Coot, Gadwall, Mallard, Common Tern, Great Crested Grebe were all busy raising young. Better breeding species included Black-throated Divers, Whooper Swan, Osprey and Green Sandpiper. The weather was glorious and despite the wait I was happy to take it all in. Then, at 08.15am and adult Bittern flew purposefully out of the reeds in the South, allowing stunning views as it passed the tower...




 
 
This would prove to be the first of a number of fly pasts by the adult bird over the next few hours, as it flew out to feed and returned an hour to ninety minutes later, dropping into the reeds to feed the young. A bigger suprise came a little later when I located a young bird perched high in the reeds, a little distant, though the scope views were superb. It would reappear again in the following hours on two occasions and gave a fantastic account of itself as it was mobbed by Marsh Harriers.
 

 Above and below, images of an adult male Marsh Harrier, which floated high overhead on this occasion and was present all morning watching over its young...


This was a superb day out, one of those were I could just relax and take in incredible views of several species, though it was the Bitterns and Marsh Harriers that really were the stars of the show.

Great Crested Grebes at Säby; Digsicoping with Panasonic GH4

 A small Pike is offered to a young Great Crested Grebe, riding on its mothers back, it comfortably swallowed it whole...


 


Always a photogenic subject, nice to get some images of this mother and young one...


A series of digiscoped images here of Great Crested Grebes going about their parental duties at Säbysjön, Norra Järvafältet this morning. The images were taken at around 50 metres range...

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

From Greenish Warbler to Erstavik, 4th June 2014

 


 Three images above are of Little Ringed Plover which I came across and managed to digiscope at Estavik, on the strand. A superb little wader and one of two seen on the day...
 
 
 This species is always welcome as far as I am concerned. One of Three Black-throated Divers that were loafing offshore at Erstavik. The GH4 proved invaluable here, without digiscoping these birds were not going to be photographed, their range being simply to great for my DSLR setup...


 


A couple more images of a very obliging Little Ringed Plover....

This was a day of unplanned good fortitude. I had originally decided to take a day out to go fishing, though this was cancelled after I heard that a Greenish Warbler had been found in central Stockholm. not a ten minute walk from my from door! Naturally, with such a good bird so close, everything was dropped and I walked down to the church grounds where the bird was reported. It was singing from high up in the canopy in some very tall Lime trees, a rather distinctive song. A small group of birders had gathered by this stage and I moved away from the group to get a different angle into the trees. After five minutes I picked the bird up moving very quickly through the mid canopy feeding and alerted the rest of the gathered birders. The bird gave good views and all the salient features could be seen quite well, including a very good wingbar on the greater coverts, prominent supercilium and silky underparts. The bird was still singing when I left, happy with myself at this swedish tick...
 I decided to stay with the birding and on the spur of the moment decided upon a trip to Tyreso Strand, a site I had not visited for some years. On arrival I made my way north along the Baltic coast, through the woods, where Tree Pipits, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and other commoner species were singing. Out on the water, a pair of Black-throated Divers were noted, much closer to the far side of the large bay. I worked my way through the woods to Erstavik, locating a lovely Little Ringed Plover along the way, which showed really well for the camera. A Common Candpiper, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and a cracking male Hobby followed these, the latter trying its luck at some Starlings on its way through at high speed. Estavik itself was a little dissapointing and I made my way northwards again along the other side of the bay were I had good views of three Black-throated Divers, though they were around 100 metres away at their closest, the GH4 proved up to the job. The birds made excellent video test subjects and I eventually sat back and enjoyed these fabulous birds through the scope. I combed the woods here too for Red Breasted flycatcher, alas no joy. Pied Flycatchers were in evidence, singing away in the woods, a couple of nest sites were located. A male Red Backed Shrike dived into a bush in front of me, Lesser Whitethroat and Wryneck were heard singing, whilst an Osprey floated past. I made my way through the nature reserve and onto the Tvarbana, a small train, which left me back in Slussen after a circuititious walk that was highly enjoyable, a fantastic day out...

 

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Isbladkarret, 3rd June 2014

 A pair of newly hatched Coot being fed by their mother...


 Male Lapwing


Juvenile Grey Heron

A visit to Isbladkarret and the surrounding area today was in order. I walked around for sometime listening to songbirds in the hope of a Blyths Reed Warbler, Marsh Warbler or even River Warbler to no avail. All three species are now moving through and it is a great time to find these birds. At the wetland itself the Grey Heronry was really busy, a lot of noise and activity, with many birds already fledged. A pair of Slavonian Grebe were noted and the nest was found, one of the birds sitting tight on eggs in the rushes. Gadwall, Goldeneye, Mallard, Coot and Tufted Duck were all present in a breeding capacity, as were a pair of Lapwing. A Moorhen was noteworthy, an uncommon bird here in Stockholm. Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Pied flycatcher and Willow Warbler were all noted in song. Overhead there were lots of Swift and Swallows feeding and these were carefully checked.  Although this site is very Close to the ciry there is rarity potential here, especially on passage and the site is always worth a visit.

Here is a slow motion capture of a Coot feeding two newly hatched Young..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AmvM1JXPGvc&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A
 

Shooting slow motion video with the Panasonic GH4

One of the really nice features on the Panasonic GH4 is Variable Frame Rate. This is available on MP4 mode in 100mbs and offers shooting between 2fps and 96fps when the Variable Frame Rate is enabled. I have been shooting at 96fps, which offers one quarter speed slow motion and lends to some very nice video and the chance to slow things down dramatically. Here are a few examples of test video slow motion HD footage taken in the past few trips...

Goldeneye chick diving in slo mo...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2dwFGvqGXY

Adult female Goldeneye in slo mo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RSBDWvMfktk

Adult male Gadwall feeding in slo mo..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WZFFqrGTNj4

Adult male Slavonian Grebe preening in slo mo
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQzxu2hPrLg

Bathing Lapwing in slo mo..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=of9r1iRGuog

Distant Common Swifts hawking insects in slo mo..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AROlKJcCkI

As always, click on 1080hp in order to view best quality video. Apart from the pleasing artistic and aesthetic qualities of the videos in slow motion, the ability to shoot fast moving subjects in flight, such as the Swifts, shows the usefulness with regard to obtaining record footage.


 

Sunday, June 01, 2014

Norra Jarvfaltet, 31st May 2014

 Digiscoped Lapwing at Saby...


Common Pochard drake at Saby...

A day out resulted in nothing strange noted, though 60 species was a decent haul. I started at Saby were things were rather quiet. A few Lapwings were the only waders present and I moved off through Jagarkullen where I had great views of Thrush Nightingale. From the tower a pair of Black-throated Diver were present, though distant. A brief Hobby, a fishing Osprey and a pair of nesting Marsh Harriers were very nice. Lots of Swift were present over the lake and I nearly had a heart attack when a partial albino was picked up, a completely white mantle and scapulars had me briefly thinking I had struck gold, before the reality hit home. The undercarriage was largely white too, a Common Swift, a remarkable bird to look at.
Onwards through the woods where a Wood Warbler put up a great show and allowed me to videoscope it as it sang its heart out. Icterine Warbler sang nearby and I finished the day at 30 M Karret watching Snipe display..

Heres that Wood Warbler video for you...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1GD8HanQfJE&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A


Bird species seen on the day..
Magpie, Jackdaw, House Sparrow, Greenfinch, Great Tit, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Blue Tit, Tree Sparrow, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Barn Swallow, Woodpigeon, House Martin, Lapwing, Swift 110, Thrush Nightingale 7, Greylag Goose, Canada Goose, Black headed Gull, Yellowhammer, Chaffinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, Cormorant, Pied Flycatcher 4, Starling, Mute Swan, Willow Warbler 5, Robin, Grey Heron, Nuthatch, Common Snipe, Lesser Black backed Gull 2, Whooper Swan 1, Black throated Diver 2, Wood Warbler 4, Great Crested Grebe 2, Godeneye, Coot, Mallard, Pochard 18, HOBBY 1, OSPREY 1, Marsh Harrier 2, Common Buzzard 3, Raven 2, Gadwall 5, Wren, Cuckoo 1, ICTERINE WARBLER 1.