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

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Spring Birding; Tyresta N.P., 24th April 2011

 Brimstone Butterfly; very plentifull today...



 Bee Fly, Bombylius Major
 This large, squat hairy fly resembles a small bumble bee. It has long hairy legs, a very long, slender tongue and clear wings with a black band along their front edge. It is usually seen in early spring, hovering around flower borders and it takes an interest in both primroses and violets. The eggs are flicked towards the entrance of solitary bee nests.

The larvae are brood parasites in the nests of these bees and will be found where suitable areas for the nests of hosts coincide with woodlands, hedgerows or gardens rich in flowers. Adult flies feed on nectar, using their long proboscises whilst hovering beside a flower. Aubretia is one common garden plant frequently visited.


 Whooper Swan pair, the first time I have noticed a pale iris on these birds...



 Slavonian Grebes, a record shot of this breeding pair.



 Whooper Swans and Slavonian Grebes...



Wood Anenome; Woodland flowers are now appearing in the park adding a splash of ground colour....


A trip to Tyresta National Park today on easter Monday. The park was busy with a lot of people visiting, there were mountain biker's, hikers and sunbathers everywhere and not a lot was seen as a result. Entered the park at Nyfors and immediatly butterflies were noticeable, Brimstones were everywhere. I spent a while trying to get a shot of these, though it proved difficult on a very warm spring day. A bit of good fortune saw me stumble upon a butterfly tick, a stunning Green Hairstreak. I manage to lose it after trying to get a photo and I could not find it again, though I did have very good views of it. My first Orange Tip of the year flew past, then a Comma was seen flying overhead. Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock were also noted, as well as an arly fritillary, probably a Small Pale Bordered Fritlillary. A couple of small grey brown butterflies were seen amongst the trees overhead in one area, bad views left me stumped as to their identity...
 The birding was quite, though at a favourite small wetland area I located nesting pairs of Whooper Swan, Slavonian Grebe, Crane and Green Sandpiper. I enjoyed good views of the grebes nest building and feeding, very nice indeed, and a year tick too. A singing Chiffchaff was added to the yearlist at this point. Common birds were everywhere and at one point I heard Goshawk in what is surely a breeding area. I tried Lake Flaten last of all, alas no Black Throated Divers were present, a lot of human activity around the lake a bit worrying with regard to their breeding hopes. Last year kayaking and other disturbances on the lake meant the birds failed to breed successfully....

Woodland Flowers; Tyresta N.P., 24th April 2011

Hepatica ( also known as Liverwort) is a common spring flower related to the buttercup family, native to central and northern Europe, Asia and eastern North America. Closely related to the Wood Anenome below...

Wood Anenome (Anemone nemorosa) is an early-spring flowering plant in the genus Anemone in the family Ranunculaceae. Common names include Wood Anenome, Windflower, Thimbleweed and Smell Fox, which refers to the musky smell of the leaves....


Gagea Arvensis. A new flower to me and not been able to find out a great deal about it. A member of the lily family, Lilaceae. The species grows from a bulb. Found a few plants of this species today it well lit areas near Nyfors, one of which held a Green Hairstreak butterfly...



Another shot of Hepatica.....

A few of my shots from today of early spring woodland flowers from Tyresta National Park, all taken with a Sigma 150mm macro lens, nice to have it back in the camera bag again...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dipper Video; Tyresta Nyfors

A link here to a video shot today of a dipper at Tyresta Nyfors. I spent a couple of hours shooting video with the Nikon D90 before returning home and editing the footage on the macbook. Have studied i Movie over the past few days and am rather happy with this little short video....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6kjzgwf7CLM

Tyresö Slott; 14th April 2011

 Coot


 Coot


 Coot running across the water...


 Great Crested Grebe, always great to look at.....


 Pochard and Tufties


Snipe

A trip to Tyresö Slott this morning was rather pleasant, the weather being very nice indeed. The parkland held 50 Chaffinch, 12 Brambling, Hawfinch and Green Woodpecker. The ice has retreated anf waterbirds were very much in evidence. A male Marsh Harrier was a nice sight, my first of the year migrating north. Great Crested Grebes were a pleasure to watch in courtship dance, albeit a little distantly. 8 Pochard were present among the Tufted Duck. Coot were about as always, proving the most photogenic species of the day. 3 Snipe were also seen overhead...

In addition took some video footage and have edited it into a short clip depicting todays birds...

http://vimeo.com/22402443

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Long Tailed Ducks; Landsort; 12th April 2011

                         A male approaching full summer plumage. Note the remaining white on the nape...



        A pair together. The female is differently plumaged to the male and lacks the long tail of it's mate...



                                                Two male birds together......



Spent some time trying to get photographs of these Long Tailed Ducks.Adults have white underparts, though the rest of the plumage goes through a complex moulting process. These birds are moulting and are well on the way to attaining summer plumage. The male has a long pointed tail (10 to 15 cm) and a dark grey bill crossed by a pink band. In winter, the male has a dark cheek patch on a mainly white head and neck, a dark breast and mostly white body. In summer, the male is dark on the head, neck and back with a white cheek patch. The female has a brown back and a relatively short pointed tail. In winter, the female's head and neck are white with a dark crown. In summer, the head is dark. Juveniles resemble adult females in autumn plumage, though with a lighter, less distinct cheek patch.




Their breeding habitat is in tundra pools and marshes, but also along sea coasts and in large mountain lakes in the North Atlantic region, Alaska, northern Canada, northern Europe and Russia. The nest is located on the ground near water; it is built using vegetation and lined with down. They are migratory and winter along the eastern and western coasts of North America, on the Great Lakes, coastal northern Europe and Asia, with stragglers to the Black Sea. The most important wintering area is the Baltic Sea, where a total of about 4.5 million gather. We saw many hundreds at Landsort today, though later in the spring a huge passage of these birds will take place and many thousands cam pass the island in a day...



The Long-tailed Duck is gregarious, forming large flocks in winter and during migration. They feed by diving for mollusks, crustaceans and some small fish. Although they usually feed close to the surface, they are capable of diving to depths of 60m (200 feet). Very nice to finally get some usable images of this stunning species today...



Eider; Landsort; 12th April 2011

                                         Eider flock migrating....







A few better shots of Common Eider from today at Landsort. The Common Eider, Somateria mollissima, is a large (50–71 cm body length) sea-duck, which is distributed over the northern coasts of Europe, North America and eastern Siberia. It breeds in Arctic and some northern temperate regions, but winters somewhat farther south in temperate zones, when it can form large flocks on coastal waters. It can fly at speeds up to 113 km/h (70 mph). Here at Landsort the birds can be seen migrating north to the breeding grounds, sometimes in great numbers...




The eider's nest is built close to the sea and is lined with the celebrated eiderdown, plucked from the female's breast. This soft and warm lining has long been harvested for filling pillows and quilts, but in more recent years has been largely replaced by down from domestic farm-geese and synthetic alternatives. Although eiderdown pillows or quilts are now a rarity, eiderdown harvesting continues and is sustainable, as it can be done after the ducklings leave the nest with no harm to the birds.



The Common Eider is characterized by its bulky shape and large, wedge-shaped bill. The male is unmistakable, with its black and white plumage and green nape. The female is a brown bird, but can still be readily distinguished from all ducks, except other eider-species, on the basis of size and head shape. This duck's call is a pleasant "ah-ooo." The species is often readily approachable.



Drakes of the European, eastern North American and Asia/western North American races can be distinguished by minor differences in plumage and bill color. Some authorities place the subspecies v-nigra as a separate species.



This species dives for crustaceans and molluscs, with mussels being a favored food. The Eider will eat mussels by swallowing them whole; the shells are then crushed in their stomachs and excreted. When eating a crab the Eider will remove all of its claws and legs and then eat the body in a similar fashion.



It is an abundant species, with populations of about 1.5-2 million birds in both North America and Europe, and also large but unknown numbers in eastern Siberia. Here in Sweden the bird is a familiar site along the baltic coast...




Landsort; 12th April 2011

Herring Gull; an adult argentatus showing yellow legs...

The first visit of the year to Landsort today, arrived with john Costello of the early ferry and made our way tothe lighthouse. Redwings, Chaffinches, Brambling and Meadow Pipit were all noted on the way. Decided tospend a few hours watching the sea and it was not long before birds began to fly past on migration north...


                                         Red Breasted Merganser pair....

Razorbills were first into the notebook, along with Red Breasted Merganser. Birds tend to follow the coast north and sweep around the islands southern tip, offering birders a chance to view the birds as they pass...


                                         Curlew flock moving north...


It was soon apparent that not just seaduck were on the move, Curlew were moving today also. A pair of Pintail was more of a surprise, before a superb dark morph Arctic Skua was picked up low over the water.


                                          Velvet Scoters

Another very welcome sight was flocks of Velvet Scoters, stunning birds to watch. A Black Throated Diver and two Red Throated diver followed, high over the horizon in typical fashion. A flock of 12 Oystercatcher followed, all the while streams of Eider were passing, along with smaller flocks of Long Tailed Ducks. John had a male Merlin briefly at this point...


                                         Common Scoters


Common Scoter were also on the move, with several flocks noted low over the water. It was noticable that Velvet Scoters were flying at greater height than these birds. Both these species breed to the north, like all of the migrating birds we viewed. Greater Black-backed Gulls loafed offshore and a White Tailed Eagle was notable sitting far offshore on a small outcrop of rock...


                                         Migrating Eider flock...


                                        Eider, three male birds follow a female north...


Eider continued to pass in numbers as we stayed on counting the passing birds. After a while Chaffinch and a few Bramblings began to arrive from over the baltic, a Goldcrest was feeding to our right whilst Common Redpoll also flew over.
                                                    A mist cloaked western shoreline on Landsort....


 We decided to try the rest of the island, moving slowly north. It soon became apparent large numbers of Chaffinch and Redwing were moving north along the island. Robin, Linnet, Redpoll, Skylark, Siskin, Woodpigeon and Fieldfare were also on the move. A Snipe was displaying over Bredmar and almost distracted us to the point of missing an adult White Tailed Eagle that floated past behind us. Raven, Yellowhammers and Starling were next. Still more Redwings were flushed, small flocks were everywhere as we moved on. A cold mist began to settle on the island at this point and visibility dropped dramatically, the birds became less numerous as a result. Not much was found at Norra Udden, we headed back south. There we had great views of an adult White Tailed Eagle in the mist which landed all to briefly on the rocks to out west. The remainder of the day was spent stalking a small group of Long Tailed Duck for photographs, which worked out in the end. We returned on the evening ferry to see another White Tailed Eagle and a Mink from the boat. Still early spring as yet and the main influx of migrants has yet to begin, no doubt another visit to this wonderful island lies ahead in the near future...

The following species were recorded today;
House Sparrow, Tree sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling(22), Redwing(175), Song Thrush(60), Velvet Scoter(46), Razorbill(34), Eider, Long Tailed Duck, Black Throated Diver, Red Throated Diver, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Curlew(41), Red Breasted Merganser(21), Common Scoter(71), Arctic Skua, Mallard, Oystercatcher(17), Goldeneye, Raven, Common Gull, Black Headed Gull, Great Black Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Linnet, Pintail(2), Hooded Crow, Blackbird, Robin, Common Redpoll, Reed Bunting, Skylark(9), Wren, Woodpigeon, Snipe, Yellow Hammer, Starling, Nuthatch, Greylag Goose, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Marsh Tit, Goldcrest, White Tailed Eagle, Merlin, Kestrel, Fieldfare, Siskin, Teal(2), Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Arctic Tern(3).

Monday, April 11, 2011

Tyresta National Park; 11th April 2011

Male Chaffinch Tyresta National Park was my choice today for a walk, arrived at dawn and immediatly Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Woodpigeon, Blackbird and Robin where everywhere, whilst a pair of Mute Swan were present on Lake Flaten. A Green Woodpecker was seen well as it sang from atop a dead tree high overhead. Into the forest then and Chaffinch seemed to be singing every 50 metres or so, likewise plentiful were Song Thrush. A short while later I picked up singing Treecreeper, before a pair of Common Crossbill flew past calling. The first clearing held two Willow Tit at a familiar territory, ideal habitat at the site holds a pair every year....
Greater Spotted Woodpecker, a confiding female bird..


Great Spotted Woodpecker were a feature, several drumming males were heard over the course of the walk, one feeding female showed very well for me and alowed some close range photos of her. A pair of Hawfinch were seen at this stage, then Siskin and Coal Tit were seen and heard. Jay began to appear, the birds busy mating and in some cases nest building and I enjoyed good views of these handsome birds as they went about their business....


Jay nest building...


Crested Tit were seen and heard occasionally through the morning, a pair of Ravens and Common Buzzard were then noted. Approaching an area of woodland marsh resulted in a Green Sandpiper seen well, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese were also present here. My first Dunnock of the year was heard soon afterwards before a pair of Black Woodpecker were found and were probably close to the nesting site judging by their behaviour. Two pairs of Common Crane were heard, their trumpeting calls filling the air before the highlight of the day was seen... A slight movement on the ground caught my eye, the binoculars revealed a cracking Woodcock looking right at me at just seven metres range before it walked behind a large tree and inexplicably dissapeared. Fieldfare, Long Tailed Tit, Yellowhammer and a pair of Green Sandpiper followed. A pair of Mistle Thrush were seen at Rundmar before I headed for Nyfors....









Dipper


As always at Nyfors the Dippers were showing well and I spent a while photographing one of four birds present, two pairs are breeding here I reckon. A pair of Hawfinch were noted here also before I headed home after a nice morning birding....

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Ospreys; 30 M Kärret; 9th April 2011

My favourite image from today, the bird over our heads with a jack pike in it's talons...
A bird overhead earlier in the morning...



These birds were forced to fish in a small area and the talons came out on occasion..



Better light later in the morning before all the birds disapeared having caught their fill of fish.


Photos of Ospreys from today where five birds gave stunning views as the hunted over the water. A full acount of the days birding at the site can be found in the post below....

30 M Kärret; 9th April 2011

Arrived on site early and met up with John Costello who had been about since dawn. A pair of calling Crane greeted my arrival. Skylark were overhead, Redwing were singing in the woods to our left and small numbers of White Wagtail flitted about. Not long later a dark silhouette darkened the sky above out heads and we found ourselves enjoying our first Osprey of the year... Osprey The bird went on to hunt over the water in front of us for some time, diving several times for a single small fish. Our attention was drawn elsewhere, two Green Sandpipers flew in calling, again new for the year. Another first was a cracking male Wheatear behind us, always a nice bird to see after a long winter. A Crossbill flew over calling, a Kestrel flew through to the north....
Whooper Swans


Resident Greylag Geese and a pair of Whooper Swans were present, we searched for Jack snipe to no avail before heading to the viewing tower at the site where we were treated to views of at least 5 Ospreys! These birds were to give stunning views as they fished through the morning and would be the feature of the day. Chaffinch were in song in the woods on the return journey before we walked towards Barkarby Flygplats...



Jay


Though it was reasonably quiet towards Barkarby a small group of foraging Jays were enjoyed as they gave great views. The birds were seeking out snails for lunch, rather successfully too it seemed. We watched them for a while before heading for Saby Strand. 12 Pochard, 2 Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, 5 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 35 Teal and a singleton Green Sandpiper were noted there before we left for home, all in all a quiet but enjoyable day.

Skeppsbron; 8th April 2011

Black Headed Gull in summer plumage....
A really nice bird in summer, an adult Common Gull.




Mute Swan displaying.




Colour ringed Black Head, White Ring "UNG"



Some photos from Skeppsbron on an evening where my main aim was to get some video footage of gulls in order to try editing. As it happened a few stills were grabbed in the process as the light was good and as always at the site the birds were cooperative. The main feature of the evening was 275 Black Headed Gulls gathering to roost at the site, many of which were adults in summer garb, presumably passing through on the way to the breeding grounds. Several Baltic Lesser Black Backed Gulls were also noted over the course of the evening...

Friday, April 08, 2011

Gulls in Stockholm; Nikon D90 Video

Spent a few hours today at Skeppsbron taking video footage of Black Headed Gulls and Common Gull today before returning home to edit clips on the Macbook, my first attempt at compilating video clips from the camera. Link below....