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, September 01, 2011

Hjälstaviken; A lifer and a suerb day's birding; 1st September 2011

   Bluethroat; a typical view of the species today...

Woke a little late today and was late getting onsite, just before 11am. Walked for the south end of the reserve and clocked up a few common passerines before a Common Buzzard floated over. This was followed by two superb male Marsh Harriers high overhead on the sunshine...


Male Marsh Harrier...

I moved on a was moving along a barbed with fence, inside which was a thick border on vegetation, thistles and the like. It was full of one of my favourite birds, Bluethroat. They were flighty though and I didn't get the shot I wanted, I did however have superb views in the scope. Then to my left a movement in the field inside the fence...


 Fox hunting voles in grassland...

It proved to be a memorable encounter with a Fox. It was a young animal and it was intent on hunting vols in the grass, so much so that I began to realise that I could get rather close. In the end I got to within ten metres! A very nice experience indeed with this lovely animal...


 Hjälstaviken observation tower...

My eventual destination was the observation tower at the site, upon arrival it was teeming with birds. Geese were the main species, Greylag Geese and Barnacle Geese dominated, a count was impossible to undertake. After some time I had 185 Bean Goose also, these tending to stay to the far north of the tower. What I hadn't expected was the number of Ruff, I counted 410 at least! This mind boggling total was totally unexpected, the majority were 1st calender birds indicating a good breeding season. Othe wader were present also, this was wonderful birding. 38 Dunlin were finally noted, in their midst a few better birds. 2 juvenile Curlew Sandpipers were first into the notebook, followed by a juvenile Little Stint, a cracking little wader. A handful of Greenshank, Ringed Plover and Wood Sandpipers were also present before I noticed a juvenile Knot. This is a good record as the species is rare away from the coast.


 A view from the tower. Geese in the background and waders in the centre, all are Ruff.

After a while the geese got restless and the waders took flight in panic. Scanning the sky for a predator produced an adult White-tailed Eagle which came closer and caused absolute chaos, geese exploded into the air in panic...


 White-tailed Eagle

Whilst all this chaos was going on a second adult eagle appeared, then another predator arrived, a Peregrine Falcon. The bird came from nowhere and cut through the lapwing flocks, though without succes. The bird rounded the tower at amazing speed before gaining height and moving off to the west. As suddenly as it dissapeared it reappeared from the heights. I missed the stoop but saw the bird carry it's meal awat, a Ruff. After a while things returned to normal temporarily before a sub adult eagle appeared and then a juvenile bird, all causing chaos on sight. I made a small video of the chaos, click the link below..
http://www.youtube.com/user/buzzard1234?feature=mhee#p/a/u/0/j0M3oQBC9do



 Record shots of 1st calender Peregrine Falcon, the bird jousting with a young Marsh Harrier in the central image..


 Fleeing geese and waders get out of the way of predators at Hjälstaviken, an amazing spectacle...


 Geese returning to the area around the tower allowed good photo opportunities...Barnacle Geese.






 Barnacle Geese




 About a thousand Lapwing present today, the flock filling the sky at times..






 A view north from the observation tower...






 Barnacle Geese feeding in the fields...

I spent a few hours at the tower before heading back towards the carpark. Another couple of Bluethroat were present along the walkway. Halfway back there were hundreds of geese gathered in the fields, I stopped to look through them. Halfway through them a flash of white and I found myself looking at a White-fronted Goose, though small with a dark neck and head. I switched to the zoom lens just to be sure, there was the eyering I wanted to see, my last european goose was in the bag, Lesser White Fronted Goose! I went on to locate another close by, then another, there were in fact five birds present in a small group. Three were adult and easilt picked out, though two younger birds were much tougher. Only these birds were close to the adults they probably would be overlooked at this range. The small size and dark neck and head were still apparent though, a marked size difference in comparison with Greylag Goose. They were distant as regards the camera but i spent some time getting a record shot for posterity...

Lesser White Fronted Goose, Record Shot. The white foreheads of these adult birds are gleamingly obvious. Note the pale breasted appearance, smll size and dark head and neck...

After an hour with the geese I moved north noting Whooper Swans, Kestrel and 86 Golden Plover. Allin all a cracking day with 64 species noted, one lifer and several  good birds in the course of the day. another trip back here very soon for Bluethroat photos next week I think...



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