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

Friday, July 29, 2011

Herring Gull; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 28th July 2011

 At first glance this bird could be mistaken for Yellow-legged Gull, one of which is still present in the area. The rather largely dark tertials, fairly white head and heavy, parallel sided bill give it such an impression...




 Note the paler base on the bill in this shot. Note the rather uniform tones, lacking marked contrast and the skight notching on the tertials...




In flight the true identity is easy to see. The tail pattern is classic Argentatus and this, coupled with the pale inner primary window seals the deal, Argentatus Herring Gull. An interesting bird nonetheless...





Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Variability in Second Calender Argentatus Herring Gulls

 A rather pale bird, the moult in progress very obviously. Typically rather whitish on the head, neck and breast...




 A rather pale individual, large billed and probably a male. A number of birds show a pale bill base such as this bird with a darker tip or band. The longest primaries have been dropped during moult...




 A third year for comparison. By the third calender year Argentatus is more uniform in appearance generally. Aged by pale iris, bill markings and tones, largely grey mantle and scapulars and the new blackish primaries with white tips...




 A pale bodied bird, not so advanced in the moulting process, accounting more the marked upperparts...




 Yet another bird. No two it seems, are identical...




 Yet another palid bird. Wear on feathers affects the appearance, as does exposure to sunlight and abrasion.




 A few more here...


 A deep billed, darker looking individual...




 Anothe pale bird displaying that base bill base and dark tip reminiscnt of Glaucous Gull in firsy year plumage...




 Again the longest primaries dropped accounting for the short ended appearance...




Note the new primaries growing out, this the same bird as that at the top of the post...

Thirty-six in this age group were present at Skeppsbron and as always the variation was striking. A lot of shots were taken, the results help give an insight into just how different to each other....



Herring Gull; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 25th July 2011



A particularily beautifully marked bird, the plumage fresh.




Note the notched tertials, notched markings on the greater covert's and overall uniform tone....




A different bird in flight. At least five 1st calenders present at the site today...



Images here of 1st Calender Herring Gulls, which are now begining to appear at the site...


Herring Gull recalling Caspian Gull; Skeppsbron; 25th July 2011



A shot here of a Herring Gull that initially drew my attention. The heavy set of the shoulders and breast, dark eye and general appearance not unlike Caspian Gull, though this was quickly ruled out. The short legs, bill shape and size and the inner primary pattern all helped establish this birds identity as an Argentatus Herring Gull.

Baltic Gull 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 25th Jul 2011









Shots here of first Calender Baltic Gull, the scandinavian race of Lesser Black backed Gull. 4 birds present on the day, three light birds and a single dark individual. These can be expected to stay in the area for perhaps a couple of months before they leave to winter in Africa, where they moult.

Ringed adult Argentatus; Skeppsholm; 25th July 2011



This colour ringed bird at the site today. A finnish ringed bird this one.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Yellow legged Gull; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 25th July 2011

 First impression of the bird today was a fairly white headed 1st calender in comparison to the argentatus about it with a dark mask, a fairly heavy dark bill with deep base and dark, white tipped tertials. This bird seemed to tick all the required boxes...




 Note the fairly heavily mark underwing and axillaries in this shot of the bird taking off...




 On the water the bill shape again apparent, appearing deep based and rather heavy with a more parallel sided impression than that of Herring Gull. Though subtle in its differing proportions the effect is to give the bird a much beefier overall impression. One the mantle reddish tones are evident..




 Another shot. The tertials showed as dark brown, with pale fringes on the tips extending just a little way along the sides of the feathers. The dark mask was more obvious from certain angles as this shot shows...




 In flight. A solid tail band cleanly fringed at the tips of the tail feathers with a narrow whitish border. The uppertail spotted with some darker markings, though not barred in a graduated manner like Herring Gull of the same age.




 A better view of the upperwing- Note the inner primary window. Present but much reduced in comparison to Herring Gull. A nice view of the greater covert's in this shot also..




Another shot in flight, this one showing the reddish tones on the mantle. Again a useful shot. The inner primary window at it's most pronounced in the image on the fully outstretched wing.


Back at Skeppsbron today and spent two and a half hours checking through the gulls present. Plenty of Herring Gulls present as well as Baltic Gulls, and I enjoyed good views of three 1st calender birds of this species close to me on the deck. I spent an hour at the Birger Jarl docking yard before moving back along the water front before again moving back to the docking yard. At this point I met Björn Phragmen and we wathched as a first calender gull arrived at the dock. The bird immediatly gave a pale headed, masked appearance, though it landed amongst other gulls head on and was difficult to see clearly at first. The bill appeared very good for Yellow-legged Gull at this point. The dock was now closed off as the Birger Jarl was docking...
 The bird eventually moved to the side the dock, the tertials were immediatly obvious. At this point I got a few photos before the bird moved onto the water. It sat for just a couple of minutes before the incoming boat put it to flight, at which point I managed a few shots and some flight views. In all a brief, but very complete view. The bird seemed to fit a wide suite of features very well, which are discussed in the photos above.



Monday, July 25, 2011

Dark type Baltic Gull; 1st Calender; Skepsbro.; 24th July 2011

Seen only in flight as it flew about, my first immature Baltic Gull this year....


All dark bill broadest at base, though not large or heavy in build.Underparts mottled and quite noticably marked...


Note the long winged appearance, dark trailing secondaries and especially the dark innre primary window, only a faint suggestion of paler inner webs.








Rather contrastingly marked on the underwing...


Note the white tail and obvious terminal bar. The head is well marked and appears dirty greyish brown at range. The build is distinctive, long winged and slender bodied. a distinctly smaller bird in direct comparison to say, Herring Gull

Images here of the first of this years Fuscus Lesser black backed Gull that I have seen at the site, a darktype bird.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Herring Gull, initially thought a candidate for Yellow Legged Gull; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 24th July 2011

 A nice shot of the upperside in flight. Note the tail pattern, whitish base with a well demarciated dark tailband, which is thickest in the  centre. However the inner tail is marked..Yellow Legged Gull should show perhaps a more contrasting tail...


 The bird hovering over the water...





 Not a particularily large individual, though well built and rather deep chested in flight. Aggressive towards other gulls at the site. Note the dark marking on the undersides primary covert's.


 Another very useful shot, lots to see here. Again the tail pattern is shown clearly here by the bird, a better view of the inner tail which is well marked.. Also on view here are the greater coverts and inner primaries. The inner primary window is a little too pale for Yellow Legged Gull. Note the slighly bulbous tip to the bill, again a feature of Herring Gull, which this bird is..


 A head on view as the bird quartered past me...the base of the bill can be seen to be marginally paler than the tip, a feature of Herring Gull. Yellow Legged Gull should show a jet black bill...


 Note here the paler tones at the base of the bill, mottled chest and markings on the flanks...The head is not noyicably pale, the tarsi not long looking.


 Again the pale tones at the base of the bill- I initially thought the pale base a sign of an older bird, however Herring of this age often show a slightly paler tone at the bill base.


 Feeding with a second calender Argentatus....


 The underparts, note the dark markings...


 Another useful shot showing the undercarriage in flight...


 Another head on view...


Click to enlarge and the subtle wear can be seen on the scapulars and wing coverts. This coupled with the dark centred tertials put me on to the bird and had me wonder whether it could be a Yellow Legged Gull. The bird does not show a whitish toned head and generally is rather uniformly coffee toned, lacking marked contrast in the plumage often seen on its southern counterpart, Yellow Legged Gull.


Images here of a Herring Gull from Skeppsbron, a bird I thought a candidate for Yellow Legged Gull. . Watched the bird for two hours hours today at the site, the features noted above in the captions under the images.
 Many thanks to Hans Larson for his comments on this bird, an informative individual for me.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blue Featherleg(Platycnemis pennipes), Tyresta Nyfors; July 2011

 A male Platycnemis pennipes, note the white feathered legs and long light blue body...




 The double antihumeral stripes can be seen very well in this shot...




 A view from directly above displaying the dark markings on the upper abdomen...




 An immature, possibly a female...




Remarkably long bodied....


The odonate ticks keep on coming, this genus in fact is new to me. Was not long after arrival at the site that the first of many of these damsels was picked up in long grass and vegetation. I was struck by the largish size, long body and light blue coloration at first. I was looking closely at the markings on the abdomen when I noticed the white on the legs and the penny dropped Blue Featherleg(Platycnemis pennipes), Closer inspection confirmed the identification, the double antihumeral stripes another key feature noted. As often happens more were found in the area, where they seem fairly abundant. Plenty of photos taken and decent results to posted above...