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

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Greater Black-backed Gull flight shots

A couple of nice flight shots of 1st Calender Great Black-backed Gull taken on Cape Clear Island a couple of weeks ago...

Tyresö Slott; 26th October 2011

 Great Spotted Woodpecker

 Great Tit

 Northern Long-tailed Tit


Mute Swan

A trip to Tyresö today in the hope of Waxwing. Checked the area about Bollmora without success and then headed for Tyresö Slott. Things were quiet, though I had nice views of Long-tailed Tit, Siskin and other common species. The Slott held a handful of Great Crested Grebe, Goosand and Goldeneye, though no Bearded Tit today.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Argentatus Herring Gull, Skeppsbron; 25th October 2011

 Above and below; Two typical 1st Calender Agentatus Herring Gulls on the deck at Skeppsron. Note the newly moulted mantle and scapulars, marked head, breast and flanks. dark bill, coarsely notched greater coverts, dark brown centred tertials with notching on fringes. short legs and structure of the bill..

 Ist Calender Agentatus Herring Gull in flight. Note the pale inner primary window and markings on the innertail...

 A 2nd Calender Argentatus here. Note the whiter head. breast and flanks. There is some pale areas at the base of the bill. Note the second generation coverts and tertials, very different to those of first year birds. Note the third generation mantle and scapulars, much grey now visible on these feathers..

 Another 2nd Calender bird. Variation is the rule rather than the exception among birds of this age. Note this birds more subtle patterning on the mantle and scapulars and finely marked greater covert's, as well as the more extensively pale bill..

Three birds squabbling over food in the air overhead, two second year birds to the right and a single 1st calender to the left. Most useful in separating these in flight are the differing tail and greater covert detail.

 A bird probably in its third calender year. Note the adult type primaries already showing the typical pattern of Argentatus Herring Gull. Note the dark primary coverts and rowning juvenile markings on the coverts which help age this individual..

 A fully adult plumaged bird on the deck. Note the heavy structural build, deep chest and large head..

 A sub adult bird in flight from below. Note the dark on the tail as well as the dark band on the bill..

A adult bird in flight displaying the classic upperwing pattern of Argentatus Herring Gull. Note that P10 is not quite fully grown, though is close. Note the head markings. 

An afternoon spent looking at Argentatus Herring Gull at Skeppsbron. A Yellow-legged Gull was reported here yesterday, though I have not seen the bird here in quite some time. About 80 Argentatus about though today...

Bull Island; Dublin; October 2011

 Brent Geese in flight...

 Brent Geese, a family group on the saltmarsh...

 Brent Geese in flight...

 A lone Dunlin with a couple of Grey Plover...


Spent a few days in Dublin after Cape Clear, which meant birding on Bull Island with my father. The light was not great most of the time though I did get a few shots which I have posted here. My first Brent Geese of the year were about, almost 300 birds had already returned to winter at the site. Also notable were large numbers of Little Egrets, with at least 30 birds present. The species has greatly increased in the area and now breeds on the east coast. More worrying though were the low numbers of wildfowl, numbers seem well down here in comparison to ten years ago. Shoveler, Shelduck and Wigeon seem to be very much scarcer, there used to be hundreds, even thousands of these birds here. The returning female Blue Winged Teal was seen on a couple of occasions among the Teal.
 Waders were seen in good numbers, Black Tailed Godwit were very numerous with almost 400 birds present. Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper(2), Little Stint(1), Bar Tailed Godwit, Knot, Oystercatcher. Greenshank, Redshank, Lapwing and Curlew were also noted. Curlew numbers are down hugely, I struggled to find ten birds, hundreds were the norm not so many years ago.
 Passerines were about too. Lots of Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Linnet and Meadow Pipit about. Skylarks were also heard and seen, whilst Wheatear were plentiful on passage along the causeway and saltmarsh.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Skeppsbron; 21st October 2011

 Adult Argentatus in flight. Most birds at the site, such as this one, are coming toward the end of their moult. Here the longest primary(P10) can be seen growing out on the leading edge of the primaries.

 A 2nd Calender bird. Note the finely patterned greater coverts, second generation wing coverts and pale head and chest. The base of the bill is pinkish. A typical bird, though there is wide variation amongst birds of this age..

 Another 2nd Calender Argentatus, note the advanced moult shown by this individual. Third generation feathers are obvious on the mantle and scapulars. Note the new inner tertials also. Th iris is still dark, as is much of the bill...

 All four above photos are of the same 2nd Calender Argentatus which has been present at the site for some months now. A very striking, well marked bird. The tail pattern is rather striking in flight. Amazing light today in the afternoon allowed some nice shots to be taken of this lovely bird...

Had some difficulty with this bird, not its identity, but rather its age. At first glance it appeared rather like a 1st Calender. After closer scrutiny though I think this bird is a year older, a 2nd Calender. Hints to this include the rather uniform greater coverts, tail pattern, pale iris and pale areas on the bill, amongst other features...

 A 1st Calender bird bearing leg metal on the left leg. After some time and difficulty I managed to read this ring, a Finnish Ring; HT 267-331. A rather typical bird of it's age...

A 1st Calender Black Headed Gull resting on the wharf, about 85 birds now present at the site...

An afternoon off today, decided to have a look at the gulls at Skeppsbron. About 62 Argentatus Herring Gull about, with a handful of Common and Greater Black-backed Gulls as well. Black Headed Gulls have increased in front of the winter, 85 birds present at least. Will be checking the area regularily this winter...

Sketches; Cape Clear; October 2011

 Above and Below; Red Eyed Vireo

 Short Toed Lark

 Above and below; Reed Warbler

 Above and below; Wryneck

Some of the drawing from the small A5 Daler Sketchpad I brought to Cape Clear. All done with a black biro...

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lesser Whitethroat ; Cape Clear Island; 13th October 2011

 Above; Three shots of Lesser Whitethroat I overlooked from the 13th October, the bird at the Youth Hostel. An adult bird, note the dark iris and lack of pale crescents above and below the eye, also the plumage is rather worn. A rare bird in Ireland, though I do see so many in Sweden it really didn't get the adrenlin moving!

Cape Clear Island, the view from the mass track back towards Blananarragaun....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Cape Clear Island; 15th October 2011

 Above and below; Two of three Rose Coloured Starlings found on an amazing mornings birding, a large fall occuring on the island..

 Another rarity found this morning was this Red Backed Shrike at the Post Office...

Common migrants such as this tired Song Thrush were everywhere...

An amazing mornings birding saw 2 Yellow Browed Warblers and a Black Redstart in Cotters, whilst Meadow Pipits, Skylark, Chafffinch and other birds streamed past. I heard one Brambling and later had five more on the Low Road. Incredibly there were 3 Rose Cloured Starling there! Soon after there were 2 Red Breasted Flycatcher found in Brids garden, but did not see those. Had more Black Redstarts, about 6 in total. A Red Backed Shrike was found at the Post Office. Another Yellow Browed Wabler showed itself in the bracken in the Glen.

Right now I gotta run for the ferry. What a wonderful two weeks birding, quality stuff.