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....

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Remote Shutter Photography


My first attempt at remote release photographt today, a very promising start too. I got a remote release last year which fits onto the camera shoe, is battery powered and can fire the shutter from 30 metres away, which could prove very useful with certain species. This Blue Tit was one of many coming to a peanut feeder, many of which used this perch in their approach. I set the camera up on a tripod, with a Nikon 50mm lens attached, just a couple of feet away, and waited. Rather frustrating at times as the shutter release was often a little delayed by remote, though eventually this shot was obtained. It is a cropped imaged, though the detail captured at close range is evident. For species such as Shrikes and flycatchers which often habitually perch on the same perches this could prove a very productive way to get close, detailed shots. A longer lens would be better, perhaps from 85mm to 200mm, depending on how tolerent the bird is of the camera...

Spring migration; 30 M Kärret; 23rd March 2011

30 m Kärret; Norra Järvafältet; Stockholm.

Arrived at 30 M Kärret today to sample the early spring migration at the site, an ideal location to view diurnal migration. The site forms a large green corridor down the centre of northern Stockholm which helps to funnel migrating birds and allows for excellent birding in general. Arrived early today at 9.00am in good conditions, clear skies and a westerly breeze. There was immediate activity from birds, I enjoyed the sight of my first Skylarks of the year funneling overhead in some numbers. After a few minutes my first Cranes of the year flew north overhead...



Common Cranes migrating north....
Very nice to see these majestic birds moving back into the country, a few minutes later another group was picked out to the east of the site. Lapwings were also very much in evidence, several small groups moving northwest into the wind. The after a half an hour the call went out and I got a brief view of a male Hen Herrier moving through in the same direction, albeit a distant view..


Whooper Swans migrating...
Whooper Swans were another species very much on the move today, a total of 37 birds were noted moving through the area. Then a singing Mistle Thrush was picked out in the woods to the west, another year tick. Still Skylarks moved through. Gulls began to move aroung noon, Black Headed, Common, Greater Black-backed and a handful of newly arrived Lesser Black-backed were all noted. Many of the birds were distant and the telescope was relied on for good views..


Leica Televid, have used this scope for 15 years now, invaluable today....
Still more new birds came. Common Buzzards were moving in small numbers, other raptors included several Sparrowhawk and 2 Goshawk. Common Snipe were another year first, two birds picked up in the air calling. A single Rough Legged Buzzard was nice, as were two Taiga Bean Geese amongst Greylags. Crows were very much in eveidence, Cormorant and Goosander were also picked up. A most welcome bird was a Woodlark high overhead, the distinctive call drawing attention to the bird. The best of all was still to come in the form of a very impressive raptor...



Adult White Tailed Eagle, always a great bird to see....
The first White Tailed Eagle, an adult, flew over about 1pm from the south. Another adult soon after was followed by a younger bird, before another adult graced my scope a while later, the passage all taking place within 30 minutes or so. There was alway some thing to watch at some points in the day, Cranes eventually totalled 35 birds before I departed at 2.30pm.
All in all a very rewarding days birding, though a little hard in birding terms, a lot of scanning, scoping and distant birds involved....


Another view of the site. A very rich habitat which is thawing out rapidly...






Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mute Swan Cob, 16th March 2011







Came across this male Mute Swan today, part of the Skeppsbron herd in the city. The bird is rather aggresive, a dominant male which was displaying and generally throwing his weight about today at the site. A herd of swans are present at the site in varying numbers year round. These herds are where adolescent birds learn social behaviour, pecking order and will eventually pair up with other birds at sites like these. Stunning birds to look at and I couldnt resist grabbing a few images of this bird today....

Monday, March 14, 2011

Nuthatch

Nuthatch in Song.

Indian Ink applied with Mapping Pen(14"x11")

Black Throated Diver


Black Throated Diver; Summer Adult.
Indian ink applied with Mapping Pen(12"x9")