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, 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.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Tyresta National Park, a day digiscoping with the Panasonic GH4

 


 


 


 Above, four digiscoped images of Wood Warbler from today...all ISO800


 Common Crane


A female Teal at rest at Ovre Karret...

A day out at Tyresta National Park proved rather difficult. A bank holiday meant the lakes were busy with swimmers and picnic blankets, thus the local Black throated Divers on Flaten were not to be found. I managed 50 species during the few hours I wandered around and spent some time with a lovely displaying Wood Warbler. Eventually i got some shots of the bird..
 At the marshland area at Ovre Karret I had distant views of breeding Common Crane, Whooper Swan, Teal, Goldeneye. Common Swifts were here in numbers and I spent some time watching them peform stunning aerial manouveres, often whizzing past my head. Othe nice birds included displaying Pied Flycatchers, Red backed shrike, Garden Warbker, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Jay, Green Woodpecker, Lesser spotted Woodpecker, Common Buzzard, Siskin, Hawfinch and others. as with recent Days it was very windy indeed, this has not helped birding in general, due to cold tempertures. I am looking forward to finding some coperative avian subjects, in order to really put the GH4 through its paces.
 So far I am very, very impressed with the camera. I am begining to get my head around the still images, with better conditions I Think the camera really will shine...

Selected bird species seen on the day...
Willow Warbler 11, Treecreeper 2, Garden Warbler 4, Blackcap 11, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker 1, Jay, Common Tern, Pied Flyctcher 5, Redwing 2, Coal Tit 3, Red backed Shrike 1, Crossbill 5, Wood Warbler 1, Bullfinch 1, Teal 6, Swift 75, Goldeneye 8, Slavonian Grebe, Crane 2, Whooper Swan 2, Hawfinch, Green Sandpiper 1, Green Woodpecker 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Fysingen, Red-necked Phalarope and Broad-billed Sandpipers, 28th May 2014







Above, record shots of Red-necked Phalarope...

My first visit to Fysingen in a very long time, too long in fact. This is a truly wonderful birding site and it was great to be back. On arrival I headed straight for where I knew the main attraction had been seen earlier in the morning, a Red-necked Phalarope. Locals had the bird lined up and it was that simple, I was finally looking at my first Red-necked Phalarope. How this species has managed to elude me for so long is something of a mystery to me, I have dipped quite a few and just never come across one whilst in the field. It was worth the wait though, I had glorious views of what is probably a female bird. It was a Little distant for photos, though the reach given to me by way of digiscoping was invaluable on this occasion. I watched the bird feeding in the same small area for an hour Before moving on.
 There was more to come though. After setting up over Srtoms Mad I had a fine male Garganey fly past, very nice. A mixed colont of Black/headed Gulls and Common Terns was busy incubating their cluthes of eggs, whilst breeding Lapwing, Shoveler, Gadwall and Redshank were all present. Two pairs of Little--ringed Plover were also nice to view, whilst a stunning pair of Marsh Harriers gave fantastic scope views. An Osprey put in an appearance briefly, whilst a Citrine Wagtail was heard call, but not seen. The species is breeding at the site, a rare occurence in Sweden. After some time I clocked three small waders flying in and as they landed I got the scope on them. I was delighted to behold three cracking Broad-billed Sandpipers! The birds were in view for a few minutes, before they dissapeared into low grasses and were lost from view.
 Later I made my way to the tower and checked the hundreds of hirundines and Swifts low over the lake. A Great Reed Warbler sang close by but was not in view. Sedge Warblers and a few Reed Warblers were also noted, whilst Thrush Nightingale song boomed from the thickets. I headed off from aholmen after a great day, I will not be waiting too long to return to this site again...

Click on the link below for record video of the Phalarope...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bs1cmsNAehw&feature=youtu.be

Click on the link below for Osprey video taken today..
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ewHz4_ZozhE&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A