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
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

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Caspian Gull; 1st Winter; Skeppsbron; 8th December 2018

 Caspian Gull. Delighted to find the bird still present at the site today. It gave fantastic views down to a  metre or two at times and was enjoyed by several birders whilst I was there today..

 A really nice bird this one, here at rest on the water...

 Nice comparison with 1st winter Argentatus. Note the long necked appearance here, along with the whiter head, bill shape, tertial pattern and difference in greater coverts.

 Upperparts from above in flight.

 Nice image of the fanned tail here, Again, classic Caspian Gull, with whitish base and blackish tail band. Just a mall amount of black barring. 

 In flight, note the typical greater coverts, which look darker at the bases and lack the typical triangular notches of Herring Gull.

 Very confiding today and the bird was rather aggresive at times, competing with the local Argentatus Herring Gulls for handouts. The bird was frequently to close to photograph.

 Close up of the head. The bird is a rather classic individual, probably a female. Note the rather long, parallel sided shape of the bill.

 Close up of the mantle and scapulars. Note the typical pantern on the second cycle mantle and scapulars, typical of 1st winter Caspian Gull.

 Close up of the tertials and wing covert's...

View of the underwing, typical of the secies in this plumage. Rather whitish on the underwing and not as well marked as Herring Gull. Again, a nice view of the tail here as well...

A selection of images of the 1st winter Caspian Gull, which is still present at Skeppsbron and showing very well. The bird calls constantly and this makes locating the bird extremely simple. It is a striking bird and quite easy to pick out by appearance alone, though the typical braying call really carries well and makes locating the bird among seventy odd Herring Gull very much easier. Nice to get some better images today, though it was heavily overcast on the day.

Sunday, December 02, 2018

Caspian Gull; Skeppsbron; 2nd December 2018

 A first winter bird, note the classic tertials and the pattern on the moulted scapulars.

 Lucky to get any kind of flight image given the appalling light. This image shows the tail pattern well nonetheless, along with the dark based greater coverts, also the 'venetian blind effect' on the inner primaries and a small headed appearance.

A really nice individual. Here there is a decent view of the classic, parallel sided bill shape. Note also the white headed appearance, well marked nape and the pattern on the centres of the second generation scapulars. A classic Caspian Gull and well worth the dash to see it...

The remarkable mild winter continues. I received a call from Dirk Van Gainsberg late this afternoon to say he had just had a Caspian Gull at Skeppsbron. Despite the terrible light, I decided to go for it and was glad I did, with the bird being present on arrival. It was easily picked up as it was calling on occasion, the peculiar nasal quality of the call drawing attention to the bird. The light was terrible and dusk was closing in, so there was no chance of decent images, though these images of the bird at dusk are at least a little different! A really nice individual, with a clean headed apearance and classic upperparts for a bird of it's age. The second at the site this year and the first December record at the site ever.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Latest sketches; November 2018

 Grey Plover

 Common Gull

Great Black backed Gull

Little Auk

Reed Bunting

Above and Below; Whinchat

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Ringed Argentatus Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; 18th November 2018

Images here of a 3rd Calender Herring Gull
Swedish Ring No. 90B17421

More details to follow....

Argentatus Herring Gull in November; Skeppsbron; 18th November 2018

Adult, note the yellow legs...

3rd Calender

3rd Calender 

Adult type with yellow legs, not uncommon here in Stockholm.

3rd Calender

3rd Calender

2nd calender

Some of these birds difficult to age on the water. Probable 2nd calender.

Adult showing primary pattern rather nicely.

Adult omissus type here, showing typical faded grey primaries at the tip.

1st Winter

Adults, note the differring leg tone.

Sub Adult

2nd Calender
Sub Adult


Ringed individual, a 3rd calender

Subadult long call, a very aggressive individual.

Some images here of Herring Gull from the patch at Skeppsbron.

Sandhamn. 20th October 2018

Goldcrest are the quintessential autumn migrant. A few images from above the main village here...

With the autumn moving quickly onwards I decided to head for the island of Sandhamn on the outer Archipelago. I left early and was soon on the ferry from Stavsnas on a nice morning. Weather conditions were not ideal for grounding migrants, though I was still optimistic of something decent given the time of year.
 On arrival on the island I immediately headed south down the easterly side and quickly determined that it was quiet in general. A few Goldcrest were noted in the trees as I made my way to a favourite area of mine, a small beach which usually holds something of interest. There was plenty of weed piled up on the beach, with attendant insect life, though there was little feeding upon it. I did flush a small number of Song Thrush from the bushes round the area, before a movement caught my eye along the tideline. I raised my binoculars to find the culprit was a Black Redstart, a decent bird and most welcome. I watched it feeding along the beach for a while before the trilling call of Waxwing took my attention elsewhere.
 I located the birds eventually. Despite the birds being vocal it took a little longer than usual as the birds were feeding on the ground, foraging on blueberries on the deck. There were eleven birds present, probably fresh in and they were not hanging around. They moved quickly and in towards the centre of the island. These were my first of the autumn, always a welcome bird and not a species you would ever pass by. I moved onwards, though it was to prove tough going after this early bright patch. The southern end of the island proved to be rather dead, with few migrants noted. A few Goldcrest were picked up on call, as well as a few Chaffinch and a couple of calling Brambling. Eurasian Siskin and Common Redpoll were noted moving overhead. I spent quite a while combing the area in the hope of a better bird, though it did not come to pass and I decided to head north again...

Waxwing. The first of the autumn for me, as always, a stunning species to see...

It was not before I reached the midpoint of the island that I began to pick up a few birds. The area above the village is generally good and here I found plenty of Goldcrest. Thrushes were in Evidence, with plenty of Blackbird and smaller numbers of Song Thrush feeding in the gardens here. A single Chiffchaff was better, I pressed on. This late into the year the going can often be tough and I pressed on in the hope of that one late rarity, though it was not to be. The highlight of the day would prove to be Waxwing, around 60 of which were present and moving around in small groups between the gardens. Some fed on Rowan berries, whilst other were preoccupied with apples in two of the gardens in the main village.
 The village proved better for migrants, with a couple of Reed Bunting located at a bird feeding station. I waited here for a while and had Siskin, Redpoll, Bullfinch and a few Yellowhammer. Robin and Dunnock were numerous here also, whilst a small group of Northern Long tailed Tit were wonderful to see at close range. The more deciduous nature of the vegetation here meant that there were a handful of Chiffchaff in the area, whilst a late Willow Warbler was a decent find at this date. Despite combing the island, there would be no eastern goodies and the hope for Yellow browed Warbler was never found. Sandhamn is always worth a visit though. Someday, I am quite sure, this island will host an eastern mega....