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, May 23, 2011

Black woodpecker feeding young; Sandemar; 23rd May 2011

First approach, the young rise from the inside of the nest chamber...



She feeds the first chick to reach her...



Food is inserted into the throat of the young bird...



Thr female fed a second chick at this stage before waiting at the hole to see if any faeces needed to be taken away...



She eventually departed to find fore food after about 30 seconds. Visits to the nest were about ten minutes apart by both adults, both feeding the young dilegently. Three chicks look to be doing very well and look healthy, all should fledge soon...

A sequence of shots here of a female Black woodpecker feeding three fledlings at the nesthole. I was lucky enough to locate this nest today and spent an hour watching both parents feeding the young. I grabbed just one series of shots with a remote shutter release from 30 metres range. This is only the third nest i have located in six summers here in Sweden, it was very nice to get shots of these birds today. I watched the birds for about an hour today as they came and went, a very nice experience indeed...


Elder Flower Orchid; Dactylorhiza sambucina; Sandemar; 23rd May 2011

A stand of orchids was impossible to pass today at Sandemar reserve, perhaps 80 plants in close proximity were screaming out to be photographed.


Elder flower Orchid, Dactylorhiza sambucina, a shot of a plant including the leaves and stem...




Extreme close up of the purple flowers...




A close up...this time of one of the paler plants. The species is commonly found in both purple and yellow forms...



Detail of purple plant crown, lemon yellow tones at the centre of the flower...



A detail of the individual flower heads of a pale lemon plant. Quite stunningly delicate...



Three pale plants together in the sunlight...


Images here of Elder Flower Orchid. I came across today at Sandemar. A quite simply stunning plant. In a stand of about 80 plants today the purple form was predominant..

A remarkable and for several reasons a very exceptional Dactylorhiza orchid. Apart from being the smallest of the genus and one blooming in the earlier part of the spring ,the most intriguing fact, one rarely seen with orchids, is that its specimens appear in two completely different color variations. Besides the generally more abundant yellow specimens, larger populations also include plants with purplish red flowers. As today, certain stands may contain more purple than yellow specimens.

Dactylorhiza sambucina winters on its two forked egg-shaped tubers. Its hollow stem is up to 12 in/30 cm tall and covered with 4-7 elongated lanceolate spotless leaves . The edges of the tepals, the upper part of the stem and the scales, are reddish to purple on the red flowered plants. The inflorescence, or flower crown, is dense, rich and short and it bears 10-25 relatively large flowers. Apart from the aforementioned colors, the flowers can also be colored in white, pink or even a combination of yellow and purple . The flowers are dominated by a very thick, long spur attached to the back of the base of the unsegmented or only slightly three-lobed lip. The flowers smell like elder berry, hence the english name. Dactylorhiza sambucina prefers light forests and somewhat dry infertile meadows in medium and higher altitudes.mit blooms between March and July and grows only in Europe.


Wild Flowers; Sandemar; 23rd May 2011

Cuckoo Flower Cardamine pratensis




Snakes Head Fritillary Fritillaria Meleagris




Marsh Marigold Cathia Palustris




A close up of the flowers....



Images here of various wildflowers taken at Sandemar Reserve today. all taken with a sigma 150mm Macro lens.




Sandemar Reserve; 23rd May 2011





Common Rosefinch; a classic Sandemar species....the habitat here is perfect for them.




A visit today to Sandemar reserve. The next three weeks or so will be amongst the best of the year at the site, though it can hold good birds almost anytime of the year. Within a few seconds of arrival I heard the song of one of it's signature species, Common Rosefinch. My first for the year was followed by five more males during my morning and afternoon. Thrush Nightingales were singing too, three males were very vocal but typically alwost impossible to photograph! Whitethroat, Pied Flycatcher, Blackcap, Garden Warbler all quickly entered the notebook. Then the familiar song of Icterine Warbler was picked up and I found it in the high treetops in song, moving perch constantly as it did so. A nice yeartick, as were four Temminck's Stint, scoped from the observation tower. Very nice to see them indeed. As the dat wore on I had a singing Wryneck, as well as a Whinchat. A highlight was locating a Black Woodpecker nesthole and I enjoyed superb views of both adults feeding the three young through the scope. No matter how many times you see Black Woodpecker it retains real impact and it was a tremendous spectacle.


I spent some time looking for Golden Oriole and Red Backed Shrike without success, both have been reported at the site over the past few days. Wild flowers were everwhre and I pais them some attention camerawise over the day. Common Buzzard floated over, Meadow Pipits and Skylark sang, Lapwing and Redshank displayed. Lots of common birs through the day, as well as the odd gem here and there, I'll be back here soon...




Cowslips and Craneflies

So photogenic, could not resist photographing these pristine Cowslips today...




A small species of Cranefly resting on Cowslip...




One more image...


A few images here of spring Cowslips and some insect action whilst I was photographing them. Once again taken with the amazing Sigma 150mm lens, a joy to use it is too..





Sunday, May 22, 2011

Crescent Bluet; Coenagrion lunatalum; Östra Styran; May 2011

Crescent Bluet; My first ever...

Carefully, I went through my photos of Damselflies with Lewingtons plates in my hand for close scrutiny. This male stopped me, several features were wrong for Northern and Variable, the blue spots on the back of the eyes not joining, the unbroken antihumeral stripes, the largely dark section 7,7 and 8 on the abdomen all pointed to one species, Crescent Bluet.
 The species is alo known as the Irish Damselfly, being irish myself I thought it a nice find. The species is strangely absent in Britain, local in Ireland and Holland and found in northern europe. Very happy with this one, my new field guide is helping greatly with identification of these insects...


Angarn; 22nd May 2011

                                                                                
 Marsh Sandpiper; quite amazingly, my third this month, having ticked the species a fortnight ago!

Work has interupted my birding this week, I finished at 4am on Sunday morning and grabbed six hours sleep before heading for Angarn. A Red Footed Falcon has been present here for the past three days, I was hoping it would hang on and made straight for the observation tower, alas no sign. I knew the bird had been seen from 03.30am-06.30am, it was 3pm. by the time I was thinking perhaps the increasing wind had made feeding difficult and wondered whether to move on. Then came the news, a Marsh Sandpiper had been found 500 metres from where I was! So it was that I hastily strolled onto my third Marsh Sandpiper this month, it showed well for a few hours on the open pool at Byskberget and I managed a few record shots...



 Not great photos but still clearly recognizable as Marsh Sandpiper in these record images...

After a while I set my sights on photographing Swifts, many of them were hawking over the reserve, After an hour or so I had taken 400 shots and had a single good image and was close to being demented. Yellow Wagtails were all about me but not showing well enough to photograph. An obliging male Marsh Harrier flew past soon afterwards...


 Marsh Harrier; a nice male bird....






 Jackdaw in flight






Swift, a lot of time and frustration involved in getting this shot. Eventually resorted to manual focus for these amazingly fast birds. Several pairs were seen to mate on the wing!

Little Ringed Plover in flight....


Somedays things fall into place, somedays they don't. A few hours had passed and I had enjoyed views of several nice birds, Wood Sandpipers feeding, dispalying Little Ringed Plovers and best of all were a pair of Hobby over the reserve hunting insects on the wing. At 5.10pm it apperaed out of nowhere on the far side of the reserve, a second year male Red Footed Falcon, which gave good views through the scope as it hunted insects in the air for 15 minutes or so. A very agile bird, though not quite possessing the aerial prowess of a nearby Hobby. The bird occasionally hovered briefly in mid air, which Hobby never does. The bird then went to ground in the woods and was not sen again before I left. What a result, I was well chuffed with myself! As it turned out a very good days birding indeed, my first swedish Red Footed Falcon as well as a big bonus bird in the form of Marsh Sandpiper.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Male Northern Damselfly; Östra Styran; May 2011

 Male Northern Damselfly; best shot of the day of this stunning insect, very happy with this shot...




 ...at rest amongst the grass






Another close up shot.


Images here of adult male Northern Damselflies. After doing a bit of birding at the site I devoted the rest of the day to photographing odanata after it became apparent many were emerging at the site. I used the Sigma 150mm Macro lens to get all of these shots, very nice to finally have these insects back on the wing after a lengthy winter. These Northern Damselflies were not too hard to get close to with patience and a slow aproach with no sudden movement. Some very nice shots were the result, these males providing the best of them due to their stunning colours, they really are little jewels up close....

Female Northern Damselfly; Östra Styran; May 2011

Female Northern Damselfly

The only shot I managed of a female Northern Damselfly today, albeit a nice one.


Immature Male Northern Damselflies; Östra Styran; May 2011















All the above photos are of immature male Northern Damselflies, newly emerged and not yet in full adult colours. These were numerous at the site and offered good opportunities to the camera and nice to get such good quality images of them it was.

Variable Damselflies; Östra Styran; May 2011

 Female Variable Damselfly















 Female Variable Damselfly






Shots here of Variable Damselflies. I found this species much more difficult to approach than Northern Damselflies in tha same area and a lot more effort and patience was required to get some good quality shots of these insects.

Grass Snake; May 2011















Came across this Grass Snake out in the open the other day and grabbed a few shots. An aggressive snake  that didn't like the attention and struck out at the lens a couple of times, which certainly gets the reflexes going!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Bumblebees; May 2011





















Macro shots with the Sigma 150mm of Bumblebees, a sign on summer here in Sweden. Dandelion flowers attract these insects in numbers, enjoyed taking shots of these chaps today....