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, February 27, 2012

Eurasian Eagle Owl; Stockholm; 28th Febuary 2012

 Eagle Owl at rest on an aerial. Tried a long exposure to try and get some light, but only with moderate success. The bird present at dusk yet again, though a different sequence of appearance tonight...




 The male bird on a man made structure, lots of these around providing plenty of perches to display from...




This is the male of the pair at rest on an aerial. It soon moved a short distance and sarted to display, before it was answered briefly by the female, who was then picked up 100metres away on a rooftop!

Back to see the Eagle Owl tonight, this time there was a different twist to the evening. I arrived with my girlfriend Linda at 16.00 and we waited. The previous evening had been much brighter than this one and the birds were calling then by 16.45. Not on this occasion. I eventually picked up the bird in the trees flying up to perch at the back of th tree. A few minutes later it flew towards us and gave a stunning view as it floated right over our heads, It flew to an aerial and strarted to display. Whilst watching the bird through the scope the female was heard answering the male, it was soon located just 100m away on a rooftop. Both birds stayed about for just a few minutes before moving off, though superb views were had whilst they were in view...

Video Footage Here;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P_D1W0yCgV4&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A&index=1&feature=plcp

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Eagle Owl; Stockholm; 27th Febuary 2012










Every now and then there is a birding experience that really is special and this evening was just that. John Costello joined me for a stakeout at a site where I saw the beast the previous week and we arrived a 16.40. Within minutes we heard a male bird displaying from an area of woodland, very possibly a second male bird too! The bird closest continued to call for some minutes as we strained to hear whether there was in fact a second, more distant male.  A small flock of Hooded Crows flew then over and immediately drew our attention as they began to call in agitation and sive bomb a large oak tree, they had located the displaying bird and mobbed it until it beat a retreat. A short while late the calls resumed distantly before we saw the bird fly into an oak thee where it gave stunning views as it displayed, whilst I forgot the correct sttings on my camera! It was very impressive in flight, a very large bird indeed. As we watched, the views through the scope were superb, the light still good and we had this incredible bird in front of us at 200metres for half and hour, an unforgetable experience. The bird called at roughly eight second intervals, throwing it's head forwards and puffing out his throat, showing a gleaming white gorget in the process. It remained there displaying for almost 25 minutes before it flew over us and on to another perch where it call briefly before flying off into the night. We decided not to follow, content with the views given..


The birds, should they be breeding will have eggs by now, or very soon, incubating will take the female 30-35 days. The male will feed her at the nest thoughout this period. The nest will be in an old crows nest, on a rocky outcrop or even on the ground. The chicks, when they hatch will be looked after by the female and fed by the male at the nest. The young grow quickly and will be able to feed themselves at 21 days. At about 35 days they become mobile and make their first flights at around 52 days. During this time thy are fiercely protected by the adult birds and it is rather dangerous to approach either the nest or the young after they have left it. The young will stay in the area and are cared for by the adults for about 24 weeks after which time they are driven away and have to seek their own territory, becoming mature at 2-3 years of age. Eurasion Eagle Owls life expectancy in the wild is over 20 years, captive birds have lived for up to 60! These birds pair for life, like many other long lived species. Hopefully these birds will breed at this site successfully in the coming months, a female has been heard calling at the site in the past weeks. In addition there is certainly a second male at the the site, an overlapping territory or perhaps one of the pairs previous young now having taken up residence nearby?


Record video footage here;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1KnGbrPJ9c

Norra Järvafältet; 27th Febuary 2012

Above and below; One of three Long-tailed tits at Faboda Gård today...







Willow Tit, not so abundant with just a singleton at Faboda Gård. A yeartick nonetheless..

An enjoyable day out with John Costello started at Norra Järvafältet, though no sign of either the Tawny Owl or Brambling st the site. After sitting at the Ravalen feeding station we moved on to find Hawfinch, only hearing a single bird briefly...
Onwards to Faboda Gård where a few yearticks were added, best of all was Willow Tit. Crested Tit, Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit followed after a while and we moved on, enjoying great views of a cracking male Green Woodpecker on our way back...


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Dipper; Tyresta National Park; 22nd Febuary 2012

Out early to Tyresta National Park on what would prove to be a very difficult day due to the weather. On arrival the conditions were dull and overcast, with compacted snow underfoot. After a short time it began to rain and conditions became treacherous as the falling water froze immmediately to form sheet ice, making any purchase on the ground very difficult. Soon I found myself sliding about dangerously and I decided to cut my visit short. I did manage to get my first Goldcrest of the year as I approached the falls at Nyfors, a singing bird in the pines. Then my main target was found at the running water in freezing conditions, Dipper. Two birds were present, probably a breeding pair and the male bird was busy singing and feeding among the rapids. I managed a few shots before deciding to had for home...


 Above and below; shots of a Dipper, a male bird which was singing and feeding at the waterfalls at Nyfors on a very difficult day due to the weather...




Monday, February 20, 2012

Pintail; Luxparken; 20th Febuary 2012





























A serires of shots here of the female Pintail which has overwintered at Luxparken. Nice to get this species on the yearlist as it can be a tricky bird to catch up on in any given year. The bird was very confiding and the light was superb this evening, so some nice results here...


Video Here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViNkDVzw3Hk&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A&index=1&feature=plcp

Common Gulls; Luxparken; 20th Febuary 2012

 Adult type Common Gull in flight allowing the primary tips to be seen rather well. 48 birds present today at Luxparken affording great photo opportunities..




 Adult Common Gull in flight from underneath...




 Adult Common Gull at rest on the ice. Note the bill pattern, typical of the species at this time of year...




 Two adults here, the bird in the foreground bearing a yellow colour ring on the right leg which read 9E6.




 A second calender bird here at rest on the ice. Note the covert's and tertials of this bird in its first winter plumage, the bill tone and dark tip ans well as the markings on the underparts and lack of white tips on the primaries...




 A 3rd calender bird in flight. Aged by the dark marked upper primary covert's....




 A 2nd calender bird from below showing the underwing and the dark band on the tail..




 2nd calender bird at rest...




 Another 2nd calender. These birds are quite variable in appearance...






 2nd Calender...





 2nd Calender...




 2nd Calender...




 2nd Calender...




2nd Calender...

Shots here from Luxparken of Common Gulls, where 48 birds were present at a winter gull roost at the site. Great photo opportunities...

Luxparken; 20th Febuary 2012

 Mute Swan preening...




 Herring Gull; A 3rd Calender bird in the foreground. Over 400 Herrong Gull present today at a very impressice gull roost which I was not aware of until today...




 Herring Gull; A 2nd calender bird here showing a rather unusual bill for a bird of this age...




Herring Gull; A 2nd calender bird shakes off some water in flight...


A visit to Luxparken today, the aim to see the wintering Pintail at the site, which was seen easily. What I had not expected was to find a superb winter gull roost at the site! 415 Herring Gull, 11 Greater Black-backed Gull, 48 Common Gull and 120 Black-headed Gull were counted. Although nothing unusual was seen amongst them the site surely has potential. Also at the site were Tufted Duck, a few Goosander and a single White-tailed Eagle which flew past and caused all the gulls to take to the air...


Friday, February 17, 2012

Eagle Owl; Stockholm; 17th Febuary 2012

After taking a look around Skeppsbron this evening I decided on impulse to go and stake out an area where a pair Eagle Owl has been known to display. I arrived around 4pm., too early really, but I was able to familiarize myself with all of the potential perches in the area and their shape. I waited. At 5.18pm I thought I heard the bird calling in the distance. I had been scanning the area since before dusk through the binoculars and on another routine sweep, a shape on a mast where there had been nothing earlier. I moved a little closer, a heavy silhouette with the ear tufts just visible, my first ever views of Eagle Owl! I was very ecstatic with the sighting and despite the darkness I grabbed the camera in order to get some sort of record of the bird. I had to crank up the ISO and open the shutter...


 Eagle Owl silhouette against the early night sky, my first view of the species ever despite hearing them of several occasions. Despite hearing them in the past I consider this a lifer in some ways, a memorable experience was just begining. ISO 2000 and shuter open for half a second!

The bird the flew downwards and out of view, I waited. Within two minutes the deep call of Eagle Owl came across the darkness, then again. It repeated at intervals of eight or nine seconds as it displayed, though I could not see it at this point. After ten minutes the calling stopped. I was delighted at this point, then the bird began calling again fifty metres away and after some trying I located it on the roof, calling repeatedly, raising its tail and moving its heads downwards and forward as it did so. It stayed there for 25 minutes before moving to the woods nearby where it was very close but I could not see it. The call at close range though, was an incredible experience. I left after the bird went quiet, a superb hours birding..

Another record shot in darkness, the bird atop a building calling and displaying. A remarkable sight so close to a major city, demonstrating how this species can adapt and live alongside mankind. The species is making a major comeback from the brink here in Sweden...


Little Grebe; Skeppsbron; 17th Febuary 2011













The Little Grebe here again from Skeppsbron, a great subject in good light this evening...

Skeppsbron; 17th Febuary 2012

 Above and below; Goosander. Numbers have dropped a lot as the ice dissapears. nevertheless stil great opportunies to photograph the species at the site...











 Above and below; A 2nd calender Great Black-backed Gull. note the iris is begining to lighten and there is also a pale tip on the bill. The primaries are plain without any white tips and clearly second generation as are the scapulars and covert's, so this is clearly a second calender bird, despite the pale iris...









 A Mute Swan swims towards the camera lens in stunning evening light...




 A pair of Tufted Duck




 Above and below; Black-headed Gulls are often fed by tourists and I can neer resist grabbing a few flight shots...




A visit to Skeppsbron followed a last minute call from work to say I could take the night off. The light was wonderful and as I arrived the Little Grebe was immediately picked up. I spent a while photographing it before moving on and checking through the gulls, nothing odd about as it happened. As always at this site, there were a stack of photo chances of a range of species, the best of which are posted above...