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

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Hobbies, Östra Styran, 27th May 2009

A Hobby hawking a dragonfly in mid air, this shot took four hours to get. Finally got the image I wanted thanks to four of these beautiful falcons feeding over the reeds at the reserve.

Hobby feeding in the air, the prey a dragonfly.

Hobby in flight...

Hobby feeding on the wing. Watching these birds hunting and feeding on the wing is a breathtaking sight, these birds are the ultimate flying machine...

Another shot of a feeding Hobby, one of the easiest moments to photograph them, whilst they are reasonably stationary in the air...

Hobby in flight, holding food in the talons.

Accelarating upwards after spotting prey...

Hobby taking a dragonfly in mid air, the tail fanned and pushed forward helds to slow the bird down, The longer I watched I realized the birds actually use the tail to help trap the dragonfly, the bird almost folding over the prey in mid air on occasion...


Östra Styran was the destination today after news broke of a Red Footed Falcon was found the previous day. Was impressed by this site on my first visit, a large wetland with huge expanses of reedbeds, along with an superb observation tower. Unfortunatly the Red Footed Falcon was gone, but there was a huge bonus in the form of 4 Hobbies, all of which were hawking for dragonflies over the reserve. Left the tower in order to concentrate on photographing these wonderful birds. Have seen these stunning falcons many times before, but never had views like today of what I can only describe as supersonic flying machines. Had truly breathtaking views as the birds hunted round me, an amazing desplay of aerial grace that will live long in the memory. Got the photos I wanted in the end and was truly delighted to get some good images of these birds as they hunted prey before me..




Thursday, May 21, 2009

Collared Flycatcher, Magelungen, 21st May 2009





Male Collared Flycatcher, a few slightly better photos managed today...


With Magelungen close to Ågesta and the Collared Flycatcher still reported present, I just could not pass up a second go at getting a few more photos of this stunner. The bird is now present a week at this site and displaying in a resindential garden by the lakeside. Arrived at 17.00, the bird not present at first, though it did begin to display just 20 minutes later. The bird showed fairly well at times today as it sang and I managed a few slightly better photos than my previous visit.

Ågesta; 21st May 2009

Male Swallow.

Ågesta meadows are now strewn with dandelions as far as the eye can see....

Canada Goose leading her new family over the meadows.

Swift, large numbers have now arrived and are constantly hawking insects over the reserve..

Ågesta Reserve.


A short afternoon trip to Ågesta reserve was a nice way to spend an afternoon, the reserve is ablaze with dandelions at the minute, the meadows surrounding the wetland sparkling with spring colour. This compact reserve is an excellent birding site and boasts an impressive list of rarities and a nice variety of breeding species. Best today was a calling Spotted Crake, unusual to hear on of these birds in daylight in my experience. Swallows, Martins and Swifts were everywhere overhead, Yellow Wagtails fed in the meadows and Sedge Warblers sang from the reedbeds. Raptors were represented by an Osprey fishing, a pair of Buzzards and a single Goshawk with prey clutched in its talons high over the marsh. Thrush Nightingales provided a backdrop of song throughout. All in all a very nice afternoon....

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Collared Flycatcher; Magelungen; 18th May 2009

A stunning male Collared Flycatcher...

The bird sang constantly for 40 minutes...

At rest high in the trees..


Went out to Magelungen in the hope of connecting with a male Collared Flycatcher, the bird having been present for four days now. I had made the trip on friday evening, though it was late and I did not see it. This time my luck was in, the bird was singing when I arrived at 5pm and I enjoyed views of it as it displayed above me in the trees. A cracking male bird and well worth the trip. The photos were taken at about 50 metres range, a little distant, but once againg the camera and lens performed remarkaby well and the results are a set of perfectly good record shots...



Nuthathch; Magelungen; 18th May 2009



A couple of shots here of a Nuthatch taken whilst watching the Collared Flycatcher. The bird had a nest in an oak tree and were feeding young, these shots taken as the bird approached the nest...

Thrush Nightingale; Landsort; 17th May 2009

A singing Thrush Nightingale....

Cropped image...

This bird knew exactly where I was at all times...


This is one species that is really hard to photograph! Spent 90 minutes crawling around today in order to get these shots as I knew that as soon as the spring foliage comes into full leaf these birds are practically impossible to view.
Seven males were located today on Landsort, all of which were singing constantly. This bird was the only on that was not singing from the midst of dense cover and I decided to try my best to get some shots of it. In the end I found myself lying prone on a rocky outcrop overlooking one of the birds favourite perches, and eventually the bird returned to it to sing. I am quite sure the bird knew exacty where I was at all times, though eventually the urge to sing overcame its shy nature. It may not be the gaudiest for birds to look at, but the sing is surely one of the most impressive in europe. I have added a link to allow the song to be played below, just click on play....

Arctic Terns; Landsort,; 17th May 2009

Arctic Tern with a small fish...

Note the shorter, all red bill in comparison to Common tern as well as ash grey tones on the underparts. Note also the tiny feet. Smaller bill, combined with a smaller, more rounded head combine to give the bird a slightly different appearance to Common Tern...

Display posture...

Another display posture...

Arctic Tern is a passage migrant on the baltic coast, so it was nice to find these birds around the harbour on Landsort. The birds were confiding and allowed me to take plenty of photos.
These birds are champion migrants and are probably the species that undertake the longest migration of any species on the planet, a journey that can take them from the coasts of antartica to the coast of the arctic and back again. Spent a while with the bird before boardng the ferry, watching it display.

Arctic Terns; Landsort; 17th May 2009











Some more photos here of Arctic Terns, several birds loafing around a breeding colony on the rocks in the harbour area. No nests yet, the birds just starting to prospect nest sites, one or two birds were soiled on the breast where they had been clearing the way for a nest with their breasts, attempting to make a shallow depression in the soil in cracks in the rock base...
Had originally thought Arctic a rather uncommon migrant, though have been informed by Raul Vicente, a regular visitor to Landsort, that 10-15 pairs breed in the northern harbour. Initially assumed these birds to be Common Terns due to the dark tip on the bill, though as Raul has pointed out to me, the Arctic Tern can show a dark tip to the bill. Other features such as the primary projection and small bill confirm this identification...

Landsort; 17th May 2009

Male Ortolan Bunting, a real surprise on a difficult day, a cracking bird...

Willow Warbler, Sodra Udden.

Common Gull

Arctic Skua, a dark morph bird, the photo taken from the ferry at some distance....




A day of two halves really, the first half the weather was fine, whilst the latter part of the day was ruined by constant rain and saw me sitting in shelter for four hours!
Arrived at 08.00am to find little evidence of migrants. A dark morph Arctic Skua off the ferry provided an early highlight, though a chat with a ringer at the bird observatory confirmed the island was dead migrant wise. A thorough check of the south tip at Sodra Udden led to a few Willow Warblers, a Lesser Whitethroat, a Common Whitethroat and a female Redstart, scant reward from an area that can be crawling with migrants in the right conditions. Checked the area around the observatory thouroughly for little reward, then on to the north end, with Lesser Whitethroats and Willow Warblers all alond the road. A Spotted Flycatcher and a male Redstart were welcome finds along the way. Norra Udden, when I arrived was full on Thrush Nightingales. Two Wryneck were heard calling whilst I was working hard to get some photos of the Thrush Nightingales. Then, whilst lying on a rocky outcrop, my attention was drawn to a bunting atop a nearby tree by its call. Then the song started as I looked on through the binoculars at a superb male Ortolan Bunting, a brilliant bird that left me well chuffed with myself. It's been a long time since I saw this species last, perhaps ten years ago when I had two males in Poland. My only other sighting around 1992, when I found two juvenile birds on passage on Cape Clear Island in Ireland. These birds are declining steadily throughout europe due to changes in agricultural practices, a real shame as thay are truly lovely birds.
Later in the day, from noon in fact, it bucketed down rain. It let up a little at 3pm., when i had a nice surprise agian in the form of an Arctic Tern, photos above. Left the island rather happy, a few good birds winkled out of the island in tough conditions....

Friday, May 15, 2009

Utö; 15th May 2009

Eider Drake

Common Tern

Tree Pipit in parachuting song display...

A typical archipelago scene from the ferry


A full day on Utö from early morning until early evening was extremely dissapointing, though it was not a surprise in so much as I had figured the prevailing northerly wind and blue skies would serve only to leave the island devoid of migrants. An Osprey drifted north first thing as I stepped off the ferry, though this proved to be the only good migrant of the day. Eider, Goosanders and Common Terns were everywhere on the coast, things inland were much quieter though. Highlight of the day was a breeding pair of Woodlark on territiory to the south. Tree Pipits are common breeders and displaying birds were everywhere in suitable habitat. aA single male Whinchat, Willow Warblers and a single pair of Blackcap where the sum total of a hard days birding, a lot of ground covered for scant reward migrant wise. Still, if your not out there it will never happen and all in all it was still an enjoyable day out...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Red Throated Pipit; Angarn; 14th May 2009

At last there it was, perched in the morning sun.....this was the reward for a two hour wait!

A heavy crop of this stunning bird....

Again another heavy crop, amazing how much detail the camera can pick up!

I decided to cancel a day out fishing today in the hope that this Red Throated Pipit, a cracking summer plumaged, displaying male might stay at the site, having been seen yesterday. I arrived at 06.45am, not a little bleary eyed and certainly very cold due to a biting northerly wind, which I told myself would of killed off the days fishing, should I dip..
At 07.55am my attention was suddenly alerted toa calling bird a short distance away and as it approached I picked up the warm throat and breast of a Red Throated Pipit which proceeded to fly right over my head before diving into cover behind an embankment. The bird then evaporated into thin air, not a trace of it for an age. Then, at 09.55am, just as I was thinking of settling for the flight views, the bird suddenly appeared on a fence post nearby out of nowhere. Some fantastic views followed through the binoculars before I grabbed the camera and fired off a few shots. The bird then flew overhead, again calling, before flying back out onto the reserve...
Also notable on the day were 2 Whimbrel, very rare birds at Angarn and my first swedish Whimbrels to boot! Other birds included a male Garganey, Shoveler, 45 Wood Sandpipers, Greenshank, Ruff, Osprey, 3 Marsh Harriers, Yellow Wagtails, Whinchat and 2 male Pied Flycatcher.

Yellow Wagtails; Angarn; 14th May 2009

My favourite image from today, due to the interest provided by the snaking fence, as well as the birds energetic pose....

Singing in the morning sun...

Balanced briefly on the reeds...


Taking a breather between verses....


Never noticed the spider web at all until I was home viewing the days images..


Yellow Wagtails are a big feature in the wet meadows around Angarn and it is impossible to ignore them with the camera. Had plenty of time and oppurtunities to get some decent shots of them this morning whilst waiting for the Red Throated Pipit to appear, the best of the images posted here. These are of the blue headed race prevalent here in Sweden, fabulous birds they are too...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Magelungen, 13th May 2009

Great Crested Grebe

Woodland flowers are now appearing everywhere..

Cock Chaffinch

Spring shoot...

Blackbird singing...


A trip to lake Magelungen today with the camera produced nothing rare, though two Thrush Nightingales were a nice highlight, one bird viewed well through binoculars. Spring growth is accelerating now, flowers and foliage bloomimg everywhere. Some nice photos taken, the best of which posted here....