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

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Batumi, Saghalvasho, 27th September 2014


Juvenile Honey Buzzard, a rather large bird this one...



The morning of the 27th September started off rather quietly at Station1, though the weather was glorious. We wee treated to a fabulous sunrise and an early morning sky of wonderful hues, as the first Marsh Harriers moved south. Pallid Harriers were also a big part of the morning and we had excellent passage of these wonderful birds. Of particular interest were the adult female birds we saw on this day, the toughest age class to identify, I had some really good views of these birds and learned in the process. The views through the scope were excellent, though I frustratingly did not manage any photos. It is true what they say, you can never take enough photos...
 Black Kite were the first birds to kettle. Despite the slow start we were not concerned and all felt that a good day was on the cards. Slowly, throughout the early morning, passage increased steadily and soon we had a nice mixed passage of the regular species, Black Kite, Honey Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard and Booted Eagle, the latter still passing in high numbers. Over the sea in the west, the remarkable late trickle of Roller continued, as two birds were picked up by Carles, along with an Osprey.

Marsh Harrier, immature male going over against a stunning blue sky...



Eurasian Sparrowhawk


As the morning began to warm up and the thermals began to rise the number of eagles passing boded well for the day. The large dark forms of Lesser Spotted Eagle began to appear in the kettles, dwarfing the other birds. Before long we had even bigger Aquilla species and the first Greater Spotted Eagle was called, we had wonderful views of the bird, as well as an immature Steppe Eagle that soon followed. This was one of my main reasons for travelling in late september, to witness the Aquilla migration. This morning would prove a wonderful morning and the views of Greater Spotted and Steppe Eagles would be superb, some of the birds passing right over my head and I finally managed some excellent photos of Greater Spotted Eagle...



Short toed Eagle, this day will long remain in my memory for the views we had of these stunning birds, right over our heads...this adult was particularly close...





Black Kite, showing signs of damage to the left wing tip, where the bird has been shot. Sadly, this was an all too common sight at the counting stations..




Another stunning Short Toed Eagle overhead, not much you can say about such a beautiful bird...








Black Kite were very much in evidence today...



Steppe Eagle, a little distant this bird.





As well as superb Aquilla passage we had plenty of Black Kite above us and smaller numbers of Honey Buzzard. These were carefully scrutinised as usual, with the good light conditions being optimal. The station was busy now and the diversity of raptors was outstanding, with Red Footed Falcon now also passing, along with a really nice juvenile Peregrine Falcon, a really warn, rufous bird. It went through at breakneck speed. Hobby were hawking aound the valleys, whilst Levant Sparrowhawks zipped through, typically high overhead. Short Toed Eagle were now a feature, several gave us the close fly by treatment, wonderful views...







Short Toed Eagle, as they often do, these one is having a good look around. Great birds, full of character...



Highlights included an Egyptian Vulture, yet another, then the radio crackled and the words Imperial Eagle were relayed. We found the bird easily as it passed in the east, a massive juvenile, with big head and long tail, the pale tones unmissable. Then another Greater Spotted Eagle appeared, this bird was also a juvenile and it gave amazing views in front of the station before drifting right over or heads, where it began to circle. This was the scenario I had hoped for and I got some great shots of the bird. Batumi offers incredible views of species like this, sometimes close, but in the field you gain a wide range of identification experience. Birds at differing ranges, in different light, showing variable features and stages of moult. There is so much to see and learn here, three weeks is a mere drop in the ocean. Today, the light was superb and we had wonderful birds right overhead...



Greater Spotted Eagle, an immaculate juvenile in the company of a Black Kite.


Greater Spotted Eagle, juvenile. Note the rather large head and bill, with a large amour of yellow visible here. The body is heavy, whilst the tail appears rather short. The wings are typically broad, with bulging secondaries and a large hand, all combining to give the bird a distinctive shape when compared directly to Lesser Spotted Eagle...


Greater Spotted eagle, juvenile. At close range here, there is a superb view here of the primaries and secondaries, note the wide barring on the feathers, which are not barred all the way to the feather tips. The underwing coverts are darker than the remiges, whilst there is an obvious single, light comma at the base of the primaries. Note the light trailing edge to the inner primaries and secondaries...


Greater Spotted Eagle, juvenile. Note the rather greyish sheen on the remiges, again the broad barring and the dark underwing coverts and compare with the bird below, a juvenile Lesser Spotted Eagle...


Lesser Spotted Eagle, juvenile. Note the difference of shape. The smaller head and bill is very apparent. The body is mailer and the bird is not as barrel chested as Greater Spotted, whilst the tail is considerably longer. The wings appear narrower and more parallel sided, without the huge, bulging line of the secondaries. The hand is also smaller. Here, the bird appears remarkable long winged. 


Lesser spotted Eagle, juvenile. Note the finely barred remixes, more bars than Greater Spotted Eagle, crucially extenuating all the way out to the tips of the feathers, clearly visible in these shots. Note the more uniform coloration also, there is no marked contrast between the underwing coverts and the remixes. At the base of the primaries, there is a double comma, also plainly visible in these shots.


Lesser Spotted Eagle, juvenile. Note here the short P4, typical of Lesser Spotted Eagle and a feature I have found very useful in the field...


Lesser Spotted Eagle, juvenile.


Lesser Spotted Eagle, juvenile.



Lesser Spotted Eagle, juvenile. Here the shape has change a little, the bird more relaxed in posture as it circles. The shape here appears more similar to Greater Spotted, though note the barring on the retraces, its presence at the tips of the feathers, the double comma, small bill and head, short P4 and the uniform tone of the underwing.


Lesser Spotted Eagle, juvenile. The bird looking right at the contours on the top of the hill....



Lesser Spotted Eagle, juvenile. This one looks like it came though a shooting range, which, in effect, it did. How birds survive this kind of bombardment is beyond me, this would appear to be a very lucky bird to be alive, though you can't help but wonder whether there is more serious internal damage to the bird that might see it face problems in the future...


The afternoon was quite suburb, we had steady passage and thoroughly enjoyable views of all the species. Once ageing there was something to see at all times, right through the day. Aquilla eagles were the undoubted highlight, several Steppe Eagles went past us on a wonderful day for the species. Booted Eagles passed throughout the afternoon also in very good numbers. Short Toed Eagle glared at us as they slipped passed in their own, laid back manner. Several groups of Black Storks spiced things up even more, with some flocks of Turtle Dove moving too. Black Kite were the predominant species though and over 4,000 birds would pass, many of them went right over our heads. As a spectacle it was simply phenomenal....
Short Toed Eagle looking right down my camera lens at me...



Black Kite, Juvenile. a rather interesting looking bird this one, recalling Eastern Black Eared Kite.


As the evening moved in and we soaked up the birds there was time for a few male Pallid Harriers, the perfect way to draw your curtains in the evening....
Ill let the photos speak for themselves on this occasion...


Pallid Harrier, male, just to round the afternoon off in style...









Batumi - Saghalvasho
Friday 26 September 2014   

Counting period: 7:00 - 18:00
Count type: Storks and raptors
Weather:
Observers: Blanca Pérez, Dries Engelen, Carles Durà, Johannes Silvonen, Johannes Hansen, Daniel Hinckley, John Wright, Demetrios Bertzeletos, Jean-Marc Thiollay
Black Stork37Hen/Montagu's/Pallid Harrier76Osprey2
Honey Buzzard172Levant Sparrowhawk20Red-footed Falcon5
Black Kite4422Steppe Buzzard1396Peregrine2
Egyptian Vulture1Lesser Spotted Eagle63raptor sp.239
Short-toed Eagle26Greater Spotted Eagle5Stock Dove3
Marsh Harrier228Steppe Eagle5Turtle Dove35
Pallid Harrier51Aquila sp.255European Roller2
Montagu's Harrier5Booted Eagle427

Totals: 7477 individuals, 23 species, 11:00 hours

Bold = Remarkable observation (scarce or rare species or large number)
Comments: Nice afternoon with lot of eagles.