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

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Argentatus Herring Gull in December

 1st Calender 

  1st Calender 

  1st Calender 

  1st Calender 

  1st Calender 

  1st Calender 

  1st Calender 

  2nd Calender 

   2nd Calender

   2nd Calender plus, on balance probably at the end of its second year due to dark eye, largely dark bill. These birds can be tough to age and I have difficulty ruling out a third year bird due to hint of white tips to primaries, the appearance of the tertials etc.

    2nd Calender, based on dark eye, largely dark bill, lack of white spots on primary tip and appearance of wing covert's...

2nd Calender? Note the newly moulted inner tertials, dark eye. The bill is rather pale and there is a suggestion od white primary tips..

3rd Calender? Some of these birds can be tough to age..

 A comparison here between a 2nd calender bird to the fore, with a 1st calender bird at the rear.

 2nd Calender or older? A slightly confusing bird, a little advanced on the mantle and scapulars? Primaries lack white tips and are seconde generation, eye is dark, bill mostly dark. Note the new inner tertial.

 3rd Calender. Not as advanced as the bird below, note the smaller white spots at tips of primaries, pale iris, largely yellowis bill and tertials are all 3rd generation. Not as much moult evident on the wing covert's as yet...

 3rd Calender, median and lesser coverts have been replaced, white spots at tips of primaries, note the yellowish tones on the bill...

 4th Calender. Note the dark flecks on the tertials. In flight showed dark markings on the primary covert's. The bill differs from the adults below, a more extensive and darker, complete band near the tip..




 Adult. A dark eyed individual that has benn around the site for at least two years, this bird never shows a heavily patterned head in winter, rather lightly streaked. The orbital ring is bright red.

Photos here of Argentatus Herring Gulls, aged and captioned, the youngest age at the top and the oldest, adult birds, at the bottom..

4th Calender Argentatus Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; 22nd December 2011

 The bird on the water. Hints to it age include small dark flecks on the tail....

 The bird landing, note the dark markings on the primary covert's which help age this bird..

 Detail of the head and bill...

The wing here outstretched showing the detail on the primary tips. Note the complete, though thin band on P5. Yellow-legged Gull would show a broader band on P5, often dark marking on P4 and a larger amount of dark on the primaries in general...

Notes and photos here of a 4th calender Argentatus Herring Gull from Skeppsbron this morning...

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Ural Owl; Rästasjön; December 12th 2011

Finally!! This Ural Owl has been present at a suburban area for the past three weeks beside Råstasjön lake in the north of Stockholm. This was my sixth attempt at this bird!
On arrival the bird was present and had attracted the attentions of birder's, it really couldn't have been easier, I simply walked up and started to watch the bird. It remained high up in a pine throughout, sleeping most of the time. It seemed tame and was oblivious the the scenes below it. John Costello arrived a while later and we enjoyed stunning views of this large northern owl, only my third ever. It was a lifer for John happily. Delighted to get my best images to date of this enigmatic northern species...

I also took some record video footage which I have edited, click on the link below to view...

Monday, December 05, 2011

Goshawk; Råstasjön; 5th December 2011

A series of shots of a cracking adult male Goshawk here from Råstasjön this  orning. I saw the bird in flight briefly in a belt of pines along the ridge whilst looking for thr Ural Owl before I located it perched. I approached carefully and the bird was not to bothered by my presence, perhaps used to human presence in a rather built up area. This pair breed right in the supurbs! Had to manual focus for these shots in the end, not a bad few frames posted here...

Råstasjön; 27th November-4th December 2011

 A small number of Barnacle Geese are present at the lake, part of the large feral population in wider area. A few shots here from over the past few days...

 The lake is well known as a site for Water Rail, these birds showing well here during the winter, attracting large amounts of bird photographers to the lake to capture images of this secretive species...

Poor light meant using a flash, this is reflected in the birds eye in this shot....

Råstasjön is a well trodden site in the north of the city suburbs and it attracts many birder's. A while ago a superb find was a Ural Owl at the site that has showed well on occasion when the day roost could be located. I have had quite a few visits now and have put a lot of effort in looking, to no avail to date. I have been very unfortunate to be working on days when the owl was located, whilst the bird could not be found on my days off.
 Other birds on the lake included Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, 15 Gadwall and a single Pochard thoughout. Up to 2 Water Rail were present also and I managed a few hurried shots in poor light. On land were 1 Robin, a handful of Yellowhammer, 2 Chaffinch and good numbers of Jay. Goshawks were a feature throughout with an active adult pair present in the area...