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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Sandemar; 30th September 2009

Golden Plover taking off...

Grey Plover, a rather scarce wader in the Stockholm area, this site on of the better ones in the region for seeing the species...

Two of eight Golden Plover present at the reserve today, this pair caught in flight...

Yellowhammer, numerous to say the least, plenty seen today...


A few hours spent at Sandemar today, the main target was Grey Plover, which was still present today. Got a few record shots of the bird, which is far from commonly seen in the Stockholm region. The bird was in the company of 8 Golden Plover, whilst 5 Dunlin were also present at the shoreline. Otherwise something of a disapointment today, with no sign of two other species noted in the area in the previous days, namely Rough Legged Buzzard and Great Grey Shrike.
Plenty of commoner species noted, with good numbers of migrating Meadow Pipit(200) and Woodpigeon(430) in particular. Jays were also on the move, several birds moving south overhead. A thourough searce of the stubble fields in the area threw up no good birds, though hundreds of Yellowhammer noted...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Coots; Tyresö Slott; 26th September 2009






A really poor day birdwise, just a few photos of Coot to show for my efforts! Kingfisher was heard today but not seen, two have been seen in the area of late. Hawfinches were also lacking, rather surprisingly, they are often present here in numbers in autumn. No passage of any kind noted, no migrants and no raptors! Weather has been poor for rarities for the month so far, really do hope that changes soon....

Vagrant Darters; Tyresö; 26th September 2009

Adult Male

Female type, showing a litte red on the top side of the abdomen...

Female type. Older insects can darken, even the wings taking on a darker brownish cast...

Not a lot about birdwise today at Tyresö Slott, so when I noticed several Darter dragonflies in a sunny glade I decided to take advantage of the light and spent an hour trying to get some shots with my Nikkor 50-105mm Lens. No expert in these insects, but research online and comparison suggests these are Vagrant Darters, which in actual fact is a new species for me, if only because I was previously ignorant of their identification as such. The photo results were okay in the end, nice to get a few decent shots of this apparently widespread dragonfly. At some stage in the future a macro lens would be a nice addition to the camera bag...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Atypical Herring Gull; Skeppsbrön; 25th September 2009


A useful shot showing a range of features. In flight the head, back, rump and inner tail appeared very pale and attracted attention to the bird. Tail atypical for a 1st calender Herring, very clean inner tail feathers and rump as on might expect on a Caspian Gull. Also in this shot the pattern on the greater and median covert's appears Caspian like. Note that the pallid appearance of the birds body is not mirrored in the wings, which appear normal in tone.


A decent shot giving a good view of the rather pale underwing. The axilleries pale cream, very delicately barred, not easily seen though without an excellent view. Herring Gull at this age ought to show a much darker underwing...


The left hand side view. A very pale headed bird, the single tertial on this side rather interesting, dark centred and showing a narrow, even pale border. Bill all dark, not especially long, although lack of pronounced gonydeal angle and general shape interesting and could be said to be rather intermediate. Variability in bill length, tone and shape is of course not unusual in itself.


A good shot of the underside in flight. Underwing is strikingly pale on this individual, a characteristic of Caspian Gull. The bird tended to look much more like a Caspian in flight, due pallid body and tail, underwing and upperwing coverts.


Right hand side view. A full set of tertials on this side, rather narrow fringes with brownish centres, rather too light for Caspian Gull. There is a suggestion of notched marking also, indicating Herring Gull. At rest the bird generally appeared round headed and short winged, structure was that one might expect of Herring Gull.


A good view of the hand of the wing in flight. Pale window on inner primaries not as light as other, more typical Herring Gulls in the area, though nevertheless present and noticable in the air...

This bird today at Skepppsbrön, initially picked up on the rooftops before giving better views later on over the water. Initially looked pallid and at times long billed, though after careful observation I am not entirely happy this is just a Herring Gull, rather a very interesting bird exhibiting a number of features more akin to Caspian Gull, which have been discussed above. The bird certainly is at least partially Argentatus Herring Gull, with a very real chance of a second parent of Caspian Gull origin. Comments most welcome on this bird...






Greater Black Backed Gull; Skeppsbrön; 25th September 2009

At rest on the water. Note the deep, heavy appearance of the bill, tertial pattern, boldly notched greater covert's, whitish head and generally bulky appearance...

In flight, note the tail pattern...

Greater Black Backed Gull, a first calander bird from Skeppsbrön today. The only bird in the area at the minute of it's species...

Common Gulls; Skeppsbrön; 25th September 2009







A few images of Common Gulls from today at Skeppsbrön, several first calender birds in the area offering good photo opportunities. These birds all now in the early stages of moult as can be seen above...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bluethroat; Årstafältet; 16th September 2009

Right out in the open, one of my favourite species, and an annual treat each year in September, Bluethroat....

Legging it for cover after my approach with camera and tripod..

A typical pose, bolt upright with slightly raised tail...

Bluethroat is a real treat for me each september as the birds move south on passage and can be seen readily at the right locations. Årstafältet is an excellent site for these birds at this time of year and today I found 4 birds present after some hours of searching carefully, just one of these birds allowing a few shots before flitting back into thick cover...

Tree Sparrows; Årstafältet; 16th September 2009










Årstafältet is a prime location for Tree Sparrow and today the site was heaving with them. The only flock I counted held 160 birds, in fact the total was reported at more than 500 of these birds today, which really is amazing to myself, having seen the decline of the species in Ireland whilst growing up there. The light early this morning was quite exceptional and it allowed me to get some wonderful shots of the birds as they perched just metres from me...


Blue Tit; Årstafältet; 16th September 2009




Not a rarity by any means, but my best photos of this common bird to date were taken today. The bird landed right in front of me in stunning light allowing to get some cracking images...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Black Headed Gulls; Skeppsbrön; September 2009

Adult Black Headed Gull in Flight, right over my head...

Black Headed Gull; 1st Calender bird scolding another bird nearby. Still a lot of juvenile markings on this bird..

Adult Black Headed Gull, already in full winter plumage...


Resting 1st Calender Black Headed Gull.
A few shots of Black Headed Gull taken yesterday at Skeppsbrön. A very common species around Stockholm. Back in Ireland flocks of these birds often hold species like Mediterrean Gull, Ring Billed Gull and and rarely Bonapartes Gull. Any of these species would be an real rarity here in Stockholm, plenty of incentive to keep an eye on the gulls at this site throughout the coming winter...

Fuscus Lesser Black Backed Gull; Skeppsbrön; September 2009

Sub Adult Fuscus, not much mistaking them in this plumage, a very smart bird indeed.

This taken a few days ago. Note the long dark bill, pale head and chest, dark centred tertials with rather narrow paler fringing and the attenuated all dark primaries. This bird a late moulting individual, probably born late in the season. Note the rear scapulars are compact and rather small in comparison to Caspian Gull, photos posted on an earlier thread.

Taken yesterday, this bird has been in the area for a few weeks now. Rather pale head and breast. See tertials and primaries in detail in the photo posted below. Note also the long legs and rather slim attenuated structure. The nape is clean and devoid of any noticable markings. Caspian Gull often shows a rather well marked nape...

A close up of the tertials and primaries. Note the rather tidy, uniformly naroow pale fringes on the tertials. Primaries all dark with no pale fringing, extending well beyond the tail at rest.


Fuscus Lesser Black Backed Gull still in eveidence yesterday at Skeppsbrön, with 5 birds noted. Numbers are dwindling though as birds depart on migration. A few shots here taken over the last few days, although no flight shots taken as yet..

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Argentatus 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 8th September 2009

Argentatus 1st Calender in flight. This view of the upperparts gives an excellent view of the inner primary window, which is caused by pale inner webs on the primaries and is one of the major features which help to distinguish 1st year Herring Gulls in the field. Note also the tail pattern, the inner tail perhaps a little whiter than normal for Herring Gull. Variation in these birds is enormous...

The same bird in all of the pictures on this post, a better view of the tail and rump here...

... a view from above shows the bulk and width of the bill, also note the underwing here, suffuse barring visible on the axillaries, underwing coverts and primary coverts, to a lesser extent the secondaries.

Another good photo showing the inner primaries well...

Note the shorter bill than Caspian is also a little deeper with a more pronouced gonedeal angle. Also note the amount of white in the wing coverts, the tertial pattern and the slightly shorter primary projection...

The bill looking remarkably long and fine, indeed rather Caspian like! A look at the tertials, which are broadly fringed and rather notched eliminates Caspian. A good view of the wing coverts here too....

In flight again, the inner primaries have the effect of isolating the secondaries, which show as a dark bar...

A view of the underside in flight, the underwing appearing dark, as it often does. Note brownish head, breast and flanks.




The second bird, all these photos are of the same bird, rather more interesting this one. The bill drew my attention, a little long and fine, rather dark too. This is a Herring Gull nevertheless, which can be seen by studying the plumage, particularily the tertial pattern, which is typically notched. Also in flight the paler window on the inner primaries is noticable, this is due to paler grey inner webs on the primaries.





1st Calender Argentatus Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; 8th September 2009

A big, deep chested brute this one. Tertials heavily notched with broad whitish fringes, classic Herring Gull. Also a fine view here of the wing coverts, which are boldly patterned and contain much white. Note the heavy bill,dark markings around the face and well marked breast. The shorter primary projection than Caspian Gull is obvious in profile.


A superb view of the underwing in this very useful shot...


This photo gives a great view of the tail and upper rump, classic Herring Gull. These birds usually show a well marked rump and innertail...


Again the underwing, also the underparts well seen in this frame. The upperwing, visible in this and the above shot, provide a good illustration with regard to the paler inner primaries, which are just in view...








This was a brute of a gull, heavy chested and extremely aggressive towards all others, completely dominating all others to claim the bread I was feeding it!