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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Hjälstaviken; 28th March 2011

Hjälstaviken was the venue today, a site very long overdue a visit. This wetland reserve is one of Upplands premier birding sites, with over 100 breeding species and a total 245 species list. I spent the day birding with John Costello and we arrived onsite at 9.45am. Geese were immediatlt apparent feeding on the frozen fields. Greylag Geese predominated here at the southern end of the lake, but it wasn't long before we picked out a very nice Eurasion White Fronted Goose(Photograph Above) amongst them... We moved on to the main viewing area as far as birder's are concerned and again geese were everywhere. Hundreds of Bean Geese were about the area, as were Greylag and Canada Geese. Several Crane were picked up here too as well as Grey Herons, Mallards, Lapwing and Starling. 7 Common Buzzard were picked up distantly, whilst Skylarks passed overhead. A large flock of Jackdaw fed to the north. Whilst taking all of this in the reserve suddenly irrupted, birds filled the skies in alarm and it wasn't long until the culprits were picked out above the scene... A pair of White Tailed Eagles(Photo Above) had caused the chaos, the birds came over of heads from the northeast ond continued onwards. They were fairly high up but a couple of shots were grabbed on the camera nevertheless. The geese soon settled again for a while and things were briefly back to normal...
Greylag Geese


At this stage geese were moving about above us due to the earlier disturbance and as a result we began taking flight shots of geese and looking for other species. This was not to last long, the peace was broken again in spectacular fashion, the sky was full of birds and we looked up for the next predator to appear. This time it proved to be a younger White Tailed Eagle, a rather dark looking bird in it's second or third calender year. This one came in low through the flocks of panic stricken geese and gave us a stunning view as it swept around in front of us in great light....



White Tailed Eagle, a striking immature bird. The bird has been ringed as a nestling, the rings plainly visible on the legs....

Note; fresh inner primaries and damage on left wing inner feather on P1, causing a small hole in the wing.

After the show was over we decided to move on and headed to the north of the lake. Here we found a high area of ground after struggling through some sodden ground, mud caking our boots. As it turned out Taiga Bean Geese were moving over this area and it proved an excellent spot to get some good shots of the species in flight....



Taiga Bean goose in flight.



Taiga Bean Goose. Note the bill pattern, dark based with orangish band towards the tip, tipped dark.


Having got superb views and photographs of the geese another species began to put on a show. Common Cranes began to fly in from the fields surrounding the wetland and we were soon into dougle figures. Great to hear the trumpeting call and watch the birds dropping in to feed. Had some great opportunities to get images of this species in flight today...


A trumpeting Common Crane in flight...



Common Crane in flight.



Common Crane right over our heads...


A pair of Common Crane dropping into the reserve....



The afternoon was moving along at this stage and we made a wide routed way home, again through mud and snow. Amazingly White Tailed Eagle was to show, this bird really giving great views right over our heads. Again an immature bird bearing rings, could it be the same bird as earlier in the day?


White Tailed Eagle; a nice view of the upperparts. Much white flecking on the mantle, scapulars and wing coverts..




White Tailed Eagle; a clear view of the underparts in good light, note the lighter inner tail. The rings are clearly visible on the legs...again I would guess this bird to be in it's second or third calender year.

Note; Closer examination reveals this bird to be the same immature bird photographed earlier, despite the different appearance due to the light. On both birds primaries 1-5 are fresh whilst the outer primaries are worn. Most notably on P1 on the left wing there is damage on the inner feather which causes a small gap in the spread wing which is visible on the earlier photo. Amazing how varying light can alter the appearance of a bird, this bird appeared much darker earlier in the day...


After this it was off to the bus stop on the main road. Even whilst waiting for the bus Geese continued to fly overhead, followed by the same White Tailed Eagle!

Though it is still early in the year and summer migrants are largely absent a very enjoyable days birding indeed. Mant thanks to John for showing me about the area on my first visit. The site looks tremendous and I look forward to returning later in the sping when it must be alive with birds....

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