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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Herring Gull initially thought a Caspian Gull; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011

My first view of the bird. My immediate reaction was of a Caspian Gull and the birds bill drew my eye back to it again and again, surely a Herring Gull could never show such a long, fine, parallel sided bill . The pale small head only accentuated the remarkably long bill, with reduced gonydeal angle. Obviously a second calender bird....but such a striking gull. Note the pale fringes to primaries and primary covert's.

Note the grey mantle and scapulars, lighter in tone than the nearby Herring Gulls of the same age. Dark shafts and anchor marks are seem classic Caspian Gull? Note the dark, solid brown tertials. The greater coverts give me some concerns and would of expected more finely marked centres, though I have no experience of second calender Caspian Gull to judge this upon. Lesser and Median covert's are brownish with creamy fringes. The bird appeared slim in comparison with Herring Gulls, longer winged and a little longer legged. It appeared high chested when it stood still. Caspian should show more wear in the coverts whichh points towards a Herring Gull...
The bird in flight... Broad tail band is well defined, not heavily marked inner tail. Light rump and lower back is lightly marked. Dark trailing edge to rear wing formed by the dark secondaries, note the inner primary window, this points towards a Herring Gull. The basic impression in flight was of a pale, grey bodied gull with colour demarciated, brown wings..

Another close up of the bird on the ground right in front of me. Note the well marked nape, another often mentioned Caspian feature. The longer I watched this bird I found I had niggling doubts as to this bird, why was the head not cleaner white with no streaking? Shouldn't some of the coverts how moult?

Detail of the mantle and scapulars. A very well marked bird indeed, I would perhaps of expected wear to make the scapulars less well so. The shafts are dark and lead into a dark anchor shaped crescent. A few retained lower scapulars point again to Herring Gull...

Detail of the tertials. Note the greater coverts, more in lne with Herring Gull than of Caspian..

The bird landing. Generally the bird showed a pale undercarriage. ..

This from today at Skeppsbron of what appeared to me at first to be a Caspian Gull, though a few niggling doubts on this bird soon surfaced. This bird landed right in front of me whilst feeding bread to the asembled gulls. The long bill, pale head, slim build and high chested look suggested Caspian Gull, a very rare bird here in late winter.
Edit; The bird has now been confirmed as a Herring Gull, with advice from experts helping greatly, Fresh coverts, retained lower scaps and the inner primary window suggest a Herring Gull, albeit a slight, long billed bird. An interesting and informative bird..


Kah-Wai Lin said...

Nice blog you have here! Your blog is a great source of info for Stockholm birders. I just start birding in Stockholm. Check out my new birding blog:

Alan Dalton said...

Welcome to the Stockholm scene, will keep an ee on your blog,Nice shots on your opening posts... Good luck, see you out there sometime!