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

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Sandhamn; 8th May 2010

Parrot Crossbill; an adult male bird feeding, nice to get a record shot of this bird today...



After the last two weeks, where my work has taken all of my time up, I was really looking forward to today's birding. I had initially planned to try get to Bullerö, an outlying island on the archipelago here in Stockholm, famed for its association with the godfather of modern birding art, Bruno Lillefors. Sadly this was thwarted by a lack of direct ferries, though the island will be accessable to me in the near future as private boats begin to operate in the summer. Sandhamn was chosen as an altenative destination, due to its outlying position I thought it might receive migrants off the northeasterly breeze overnight as a warm front pushed over the baltic. Arrived early after a two hour journey and moved southwards from the harbour. Just a few minutes later the deep calls of Parrot Crossbill were picked up in the woods, I followed them to their source and had good views of a group of eight birds, including one adult male, which I managed a record shot of. Two birds appeared to be adult females, the rest being this years young and I wondered if the male had sired both broods on the island.



Chaffinch Male

After the Crossbills departed to the north I checked the southeast of the island, though not a lot to show for it at first. A pair of Red-breasted Merganser were notable on the sea. Offshore Long-tailed Duck and Eider were very much in evidence. On land a lot of Chaffinch were present in this area and I grabbed a decent shot or two of the species before another familiar call drew my attention..




Crested Tit

The call was that of a resident island bird, Crested tit. The bird was located by its diagnostic rippling call which is very distinctive. It was easily located as it vocalized constantly and was feeding at a rather low level, allowing a photo of two to be taken. I was enjoying the day but was a little suprised at the lack of migrants, though I need not of worried, the day would take a twist on that front. Again at this point it was the calls of a bird I had not heard since last autumn that caught my attention, the buzzing call of Tree Pipits came through the woods....



Tree Pipit

As soon as I drew closer I realized that the entire area of woods was full of Tree Pipits. I counted at least 19 birds as I worked through the woods, flushing the feeding birds as I progressed. The birds moved to the west slightly and resumed feeding at ground level. A Black Woodpecker called far in the distance. Then it began to rain..


Willow Warbler; The first of the day, which flew in off the sea as the rain began....


As I had no real inclination of getting completely soaked I opted for the comfortable option, an upturned rowing boat raised upon blocks afforded me a perfect shelter as I waited for the shower to pass, watching the sea offshore for seabirds to pass time. Arctic Terns, Eider and Long-tailed Ducks as usual, a few Common Gull, Oystercatcher and a pair of Redshank were noted before I picked up a small passerine flying in of the sea. It landed close by and I was able to identify it as a Willow Warbler, as it fed on the ground oblivious to my presence. I retired to my shelter once again.

Ringed Plover

From the shelter I was able to wait for a Ringed Plover to work it's way back up the beach to where I was concealed, eventually getting a photo or two and getting a few sketches done.

Arctic Tern; Several pairs present today...

After 45 minutes or thereabouts the rain stopped and I emerged, dry, from my shelter. Initially I had decided a few shots of Arctic Tern were in order, which I got, before settling down to do some more sketching. After ten minutes of so I noticed two Wheatear to my left. Then a female Redstart bounced along the beach. I went after these birds only to be distracted by an incoming passerine, the bird dropping in from altitude this time before sweeping into a group of pines before calling, Spotted Flycatcher! My first of the year. I began tracking back along the coast on the south of the island.


Willow Warbler; incredibly close views of these birds were enjoyed today. Many were feeding on the ground, this individual was so close I had to back off it tin order to get it in frame...




Willow Warbler; the same individual in a slightly different pose..
It was very much apparent a fall was occuring before my eyes, that the rain had forced migrating birds to ground. Willow Warblers were suddenly commonplace, often on the ground feeding and allowing me to approach closely. I spent a few minutes taking advantage of this opportunity, but then felt perhaps a good bird might have dropped in. Further along the beach I went, more Willow Warblers, White Wagtails, a Redstart, the first Lesser Whitethroat of the year, then another. A calling Cuckoo suddenly broke the silence. The day had transformed itself and I was really enjoying the birding, bouncing the migrants in front of me and identifying them as I went. Another Spotted Flycatcher, a Blackcap, then something on the tideline...Whinchat.


Whinchat Male feeding along the tideline, an obviously tired migrant...




Whinchat Male; Close up this is a truly beautiful spring bird....


This Whinchat was found feeding at this point on the shoreline, feeding on the washed up seaweed. It's great to see migration like this, when birds break their normal habits and opt to feed anywhere that offers food. I took time to enjoy this stunning male in lovely light as it fed. These birds were obviously tired, hungry migrants which were allowing close approaches and stunning views...



Pied Flycatcher; Male. A striking bird, always a pleasure to see...


And so it went on, more and more migrants. Nothing rare was found in the end but some reasonable totals for the day summed up a very nice spring fall. 65 Willow Warbler, 35 Redstart, 26 Pied flycatcher, 16 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Chiffchaff, 2 Blackcap, 9 Wheatear and a single Cuckoo. Very nice birding indeed...



Redstart; another male spring bird...


It was Redstart that proved the most difficult to approach as the day went on, several photos taken, none allowing a close range image. Eventually the heavens opened, this time very heavily. Heavy rain soon made birding very difficult and I called it a day after the birds went to ground, soaking wet for my efforts. I found a small bar in the harbour for a coffee and dried myself out before leaving on the evening ferry. A quite superb day.









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