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
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

Friday, October 05, 2012

Raptor Watching; Sakhalvasho; Batumi; 20th September 2012

Jasper Wehrmann talks to visiting birders at the Batumi Bird Festival, many of whom had been invited to Station 1 at Sakhalvasho to witness the migration for themselves. After a slow start to the day, they were not dissapointed and passage was heavy in the afternoon...

Jan, Aki and Dietrich at Station 1. 

Station 1 today with Jasper Wehrmann, Jan Wellenkes, Aki Aintila and Dietrich Ristow and we were there early. No two days were quite the same at Batumi, though again the early morning was reasonably quiet. A pair of Red Footed Falcon moving through was a highlight however, always a great bird to see anywhere, these two were no exception. They gave us really nice views as they passed in the west, coming in from the coast. A flock of nine Turtle Dove flew right over my head a short while later, whilst a single Lapwing was more unexpected. A few harriers were moving through all morning, mainly Marsh Harriers. After some time a very nice juvenile Pallid Harrier put in an appearance, before a Red Throated Pipit flew over calling. The variety continued, with three stunning Lesser Kestrels, 2 juvenile Montagu's Harrier, Black Kite, and then Steppe Buzzard begining to move. Yet again there were Bee Eater, lots of flocks moving through from mid morning, which boded well for the coming day. The counters often remarked that large numbers of Bee Eaters moving through was often a precursor to the movement of raptors..

Short toed Eagle and Booted Eagle. Both species were passing in good numbers today..

Short toed Eagle. Not the irregular trailing edge to the wing due to moult, as well as moult in the tail.

A Short Toed Eagle moving to the south directly overhead..

Late morning saw the first 4 Lesser Spotted Eagles of the day, as well as a few Booted Eagles overhead. a pair of Hawfinch landed in front of us in a large tree, called from there and then moved off in a southwesterly direction. A Short toed Lark then passed in the opposite direction, calling as it went. Then, at around 1pm., wallop! It was as if somebody simply turned on a tap and we suddenly had birds of prey pouring overhead. In text, it is very hard to describe what the visual effect is like, suddenly there are so many birds. Steppe Buzzard appeared from nowhere. I was counting East 2 and thats where they were concentrated. I was counting furiously, clicking once for every five birds, such was the voloume. In very little time I logged 4,500 Steppe Buzzard! Among these birds came one larger, long winged Buzzard and I shouted to Aki to get onto it, the bird was a Long legged Buzzard! These birds breed in the area, though are rather rare at the count stations. Eagles were now very much a feature, Short Toed Eagle, Lesser Spotted Eagle and Booted Eagle were all passing in numbers, it was a fantastic sight. After some time we had a stonking juvenile Steppe Eagle, a wonderful view of a species you never get tired of. Two Black Stork then went through before Short Toed Eagle suddenly began to appear in good numbers, all of a sudden there were three of four on view together, ajuvenile, two adultd and a second calender bleached and worn bird, this was class. The afternoon was very busy as bird continued to pour over and we counted the species busily. When you are counting furiously it is over before you know it, suddenly passage drops off and you ask the time, only to find three or four hours have passed in the blink of an eye. It levelled out at about 5pm., the passage slowing and then stopping, finished off by another cracking brace of Red Footed Falcons, a very fitting end to the day. We went down for dinner before heading into the hotel for the evenings lectures, where Andreas Corso gave a stunning lecture on the ageing and sexing of european raptors in the field. There would be a second laecture to cover more as he ran short of time due to the depth of detail. Then a few beers and back to the headquarters, where we sat out for a while talking. The weather so far had been incredible, an almost constant 28 degees with sunshine. The birding had been fantastic..

Andreas Corso begins his lecture on the ageing and sexing of european raptors in the field, a really stunning lecture full of practical imformation and often, new identification pointers. Andrea was a great guy to have around, in the field his vast knowledge was apparent. Most of the people on station benifited greatly from his presence and learned a great deal from him, a top birder and top guy..

Aki and the finnish stick...

The following species and totals were logged at the end of the day;
Black Stork 2 Hen/Montagu's/Pallid Harrier 16
Honey Buzzard 526 Steppe Buzzard 5779
Black Kite 1797 Lesser Spotted Eagle 59
Short-toed Eagle 56 Steppe Eagle 1
Marsh Harrier 115 Lesser Spotted / Greater Spotted / Steppe Eagle 5
Pallid Harrier 10 Booted Eagle 353
Montagu's Harrier 2 Peregrine 2

Totals: 8723 individuals, 14 species, 12:30 hours

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