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, April 09, 2012

A day Birding at Hjälstaviken; 8th April 2012


A day our birding today at Hjälstaviken on a cold, but clear day. Initially I ran into problems with the trains and could not meet with John Costello as planned, missing the bus to the north end of the reserve. Instead John went ahead alone and I followed, though having to start at the south end and working my way north, eventually planning to meet around the main observation tower later in the morning. Almost immediatly there were birds. Common Buzzard overhead in a blue sky were first, then my first Pheasant of the year, a displaying male. Then a male Green Woodpecker, a Raven and a rustle at ground level which proved to be a mammal, a cracking little Woodmouse which allowed a few photos in the end, my forst of the species here in Sweden as it happens..


 Woodmouse

Onwards then along the southern part of the marsh and the reedbeds were teeming with birds. Reed Bunting numbers had picked up considerably since my last visit and several males were singing in the area. My first White Wagtails of the year were then picked up feeding around the edges of the wetland, then a couple of calling Bearded Tit, alas they did not show themselves...


 My first White Wagtail of 2012...

Further on at the walkway through the reedbeds at WWF Spangen more yearticks awaited. A couple of Marsh Harrier were most welcome, the female bird of the pair recieiving the unwanted attentions of a Hooded Crow pair. Birds were all around, many common species singing. I managed a few shots of a cracking male Siskin, as well as Meadow Pipit, several of which were singing close by. Then over the lake came my first Osprey of 2012, I watched it fishing for a while before moving onwards..


 Marsh Harrier being mobbed by Hooded Crows over the reedbeds...


 Meadow Pipit


 Siskin, a male in the early spring sunshine...

Regular contact with John, who was to the north of my position, saw him have some simular species to me. Soon though I got the text I had hoped for, the Lesser White Fronted Geese were present among the goose flocks around Hårby, along woth plenty of Eurasian White Fronted Geese, a couple of Pink Footed Geese also present. I made my way north to join him, noting good numbers of Barnacle Geese as I did so, with at least 75 seen on the day...

 Barnacle Geese in flight, numbers well up at the site today..

I eventually caught up with John and it seemed the Lesser White Fronted Geese had walked behing cover and been lost. We spent a while going though the Greylag, Bean and Eurasian White Fronted Geese without any joy. There were good numbers of Eurasian White Fronted Geese around, at least sisxty birds in the area. We then decided to head for the tower, lots going on there. More than 100 Black-headed Gulls were now at the breeding colony, whilst on the open water were Great Crested Grebes in display, Pochard, Goldeneye, Tufted Duck, Wigeon and 3 Gadwall. Flocks of Lapwing were flicking past every now and then whilst overhead came the trumpeting of Common Crane as flocks moved through on migration, always impressive to see and very much a sign of early spring...


 Above and below; migrating Common Cranes over the reserve. One of the sites specialities in early spring as numbers pick up and the sound of trumpeting Cranes fills the air...



After checking the area thouroughly we headed back along the track through Hårby, carefully going through the geese, along with good numbers of visiting birder's, who told us we had missed the 4 Lesser White Fronted Geese on the water bathing! I still hadn't connected and we now spent another hour going through the flocks before I eventually relocated them tucked in under a fence. Views were distant of the birds, though through the scope were excellent and all of the key features could be made out. This was only my second view of this enigmatic goose species and was enjoyable, as well as being my 100th species for 2012. A record shot below show all four birds, just for posterity...

 Lesser White Fronted Geese, a record shot of the birds tucked in under a fence. 

Onwards then along the track and we decided to head for Lingokullen, on the way stopping to admire a Lapwing in stunning light as it fed over a harrowed field...

 A Lapwing in late afternoon light, showing off a stunning palate of colours...

At Lingbokullen we immediately had geese flying past between the fields and the lake and had a Pink Footed Goose in with the Bean Geese straight away. We sat out of sight and took photos of the birds as they passed, some of them in the better light to the north of our position. Eventually a couple of walkers out on the wetlands edge began to put the geese up and they were passing constantly, mostly Greylag and Taiga Bean Geese, though also good numbers of Eurasian White Fronted Geese and we got some good images of the birds as they flew to the fields to the west...


 Greylag Geese from Lingbokullen...




 A flock of Taiga Bean Geese fly west to the fields....




 Taiga Bean Geese. Note the dark inner tail with white tipped feathers seen from below. Quite a dark goose in flight with orang legs and bill...


 Above and below; Eurasian White Fronted Goose in flight. Note here the pink bill, white forehead with dark border in front of eye, dark markings on underside, grey forewing and pale tipped upperwing covert's and orange legs. Seen well no problem, though often these birds can be distant and more difficult to identify...


As we watched over head the flocks just kept coming. We panned through them and after a while came four birds among the Taiga Bean Geese which looked small, white clearly visible, extending high over the forehead, Lesser White Fronted Geese! Clearly the same birds we had watched at distance a few hours previous, we were a little unfortunate that they passed to the south and so, were backlit by the sun. Nevertherless we got some decent images which could only be described as vastly improved on the earlier record shots! In the end it was difficult to leave, though fading light was a problem as time went by and we called it a day and headed for home. Another superb outing to this fantastic biring site..


 Above and below; Lesser White Fronted Geese flying past Lingbokulen into the sun. These adult birds were obviously smaller the Taiga Bean Goose and Greylag Goose, though looked quite long necked in progile. The white on the forehead clearly extended over the eye and the eyering could just be made out. Note here that there is little marking on the underside in comparison to Greater White Fronted Goose. This was a fitting species to take me to 100 species for 2012...



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