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

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Jack Snipe; Fieldsketches












 Above; A page of Jack Snipe studies and detail...







Above; A couple of sketches of Jack Sipe feeding around a nesting Lapwing....


Sketches here from a few days ago, Jack Snipe at Mysvik; Ågesta. Pencil on A3.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Ågesta; 23rd April 2012

A good afernoon birding today at Ågesta. I had intended to arrive early in the morning, though wet conditions put that intention away. I arrived at around 11am and immediately went to Mysvik to look for the reported Jack Snipe. Straight away I had an unexpected yeartick, a cracking male Yellow Wagtail of the grey headed for was feeding in front of the viewing area. Soon I had the Jack Snipe in the scope, then another, after a while all three birds! I spent a couple of hours here watching these birds through the scope, not a species you see well very often and rarely on the ground as well as this. My first Swallow of the year was then called by a local birder, before I located two feamle Ruff on the lake. Nice birding this, an Osprey fishing over the water, whilst a pair of Marsh Harrier were nest building. Over some nearby tress was a Sparrowhawk, later replaced by a pair of Goshawk.
 I headed for Pumphusängen and was dissapointed to find it flooded. A pair of Green Sandpiper were here, along with plenty of Teal. A Water Rail called as I took photos of a Gadwall pair. A movement caught my eye in the reeds a while later, a cracking male Whinchat, an early record too! I headed back along the track, taking in many common species before getting more good views of Jack Snipe back at Mysvik. A very nice afternoon indeed..




Gadwall; Ågesta; 23rd April 2012

 Gadwall pair at Ågesta...




 Female Gadwall..




 Male Gadwall...




Female Gadwall...


Some decent images here of a pair of Gadwall from Pumphusängen, Ågesta. Nice to get this pair at close range today and allow some photos to be taken. A real bonus came in the form of a male Whinchat in the reeds behing these birds, a first for 2012 and an early record...


Jack Snipe; Ågesta; 23rd April 2012









Record shots here of Jack Snipe, from Mysvik, Ågesta. No less than three of these little waders present today and they gave brilliant views all day through the scope. Although a little distant for the camera, through the scope good detail could be made out and a few sketches were easily made. On arrival local birder's were already present and the birds were present straight away.Often they were in full view as they fed in their characteristic manner, somewhat akin to a sowing machine, with a curious bobbing motion.


Friday, April 20, 2012

Field Sketches; Landsort; April 2012









 Above; Fieldsketches on second calender female Steller's Eider...

 Roosting Coomon Eider female..

 Preening Oystercatcher

Eider Male

A selection of quick sketches from Landsort, mainly of my first Steller's Eider...


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Slavonian Grebe; Kyrksjön; Bromma; 19th April 2012

 Slavonian Grebe pair, utterly stunning birds..




 A single bird approaches the camera...




 Four birds here in the same frame. Territorial disputes were the order of the day...




 Another shot of the same singleton...




 Ans here, in the distance, is the courtship dance I would dearly love to photograph and sketch at close range..




Also present were two pairs of Great Crested Grebe...


A quick trip to Kyrksjön in Bromma in the hope of securing some decent shots of Slavonian Grebe. On arrival I was delighted to see several birds on the small lake, at least three pairs present. It was rather windy though and the water was choppy. Also, there was a childrens race going on around the lake and   the charming wee brats had me pestered constantly! I was lying prone on a wooden dock hoping for the grebes to approach, when a gang of kids would charge down the runa and scream at me, "Are you a birdwatcher?!"All ggod fun really, though the results were that the grebes did not approach to point blank. I did however manage a few shots, postedabove of these stunning birds. Real dazzlers these, I had hoped to get a close shot od courtship, but there was only one brief dance in the distance. I vow to return very early on a bright, calm morning...


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Stellers Eider; Landsort; 18th April 2012

 Steller's Eider. Record shot of this lifer. Note the small size in comparison to Eider as well as the long tail. The bird is aged as a 2nd calender female by the tertials, had this been an adult they would be longer with clean whitish outer webs. Note there the greyish toned tertials on this bird. Shots here are record only, the bird distant througout, though veiws through the scope were excellent. a few sketches also made..




 Remained asleep the majority od the time, though still easily picked out. Only a few brief views of the grey bill, noticably smaller than Common Eider and more rounded. The head looked slightly square in profile, whilst a pale area was evident about the eye. Also noted through the scope was a small, diffuse dark spot on the nape. The bird did not fly, rather drifted off around a rocky outcrop and out of view..




 At times looked remarkably small, a slimmer smaller bird than Eider, by a degree that surprised me..





Record shots here of an almost mythical species from my point of view, my first Stellers Eider! The bird was found a few days previously by Raul vicente and stayed for a few days. On the evening of the 16th I searched in vain for it, like wise on the 17th, scouring the northern tip for this young female bird. Alas no joy, surely it was gone? This morning I seawatched until 9am., then checked the area of Bredmar thouroughly before deciding to have one last search at the last minute, cycling down to Norrudden with a few hours to spare before the ferry. I got to the harbour and decided to start there at the first group of Eiders I saw, a quick scan and...small dark duck..long tail..I couldn't quite believe my luck! There in the harbour mouth with a small group of Eider was the bird I had hoped for, where had it been until now? It didn't matter really, I enjoyed superb views in the scope for forty five minutes as well as managing a few record shots. Growing up in Ireland this was seen as a holy grail, one of the most northern of all seaduck, little known and extremely unlikely to be seen without serious effort. Hopefully someday a male will come my way!

Eiders; Landsort

 My favourite shot from the two day stay, a cracking male Eider in flight in glorious light. They are beautiful seaduck in every way...




 An Eider pushes into the swell after notincing my presence. A lot of commando style creeping up on these birds today..




 The same bird slaps its wings onto the water surface before take off...




A trio of Eider...

A selction of Eider shots here, all taken on the 18th April 2012 in good light. The previous day was dull and wet and there was no chance for photography. Today was stunning however and with thousands of Eiders offshore it was only natural to try get a few images...

Landsort; 17th-18th April 2012

 Black-headed Gull; The colony at the north harbour on the island is bustling, as well as many of these birds on passage offshore...




 Chaffinch were very much in evidence, although migrant passerines were scarce generally, still a little early for many species..




 A backlit Eider taking off. A huge passage on the first mornings seawatch, with 9,444 birds logged. Landsort is a superb site for witnessing massive movements of seaduck...




 A Jackdaw watches me outside the bird observatory...




 Landsort Fyren. The lighthouse at the southern tip of this narrow island, which is a major asset for attracting migrants at tmes of passage..




 A pair of Oystercatchers. At least five pairs stationary on the island...




 A Raven flies past Sodra Udden, the southern tip of the island..




 Velvet Scoters on passage, hundreds were seen over the two days...




Whooper Swans flying east over the Baltic Sea. Two of eight birds in the flock here...

As always, a real pleasure to visit the island of Landsort. Still a week or two early for migrant passerines, though nevertheless the passage at sea was impressive. Detail below of the highlights, each post listing species and total counts from the dawn seawatches. I was the only birder on the island throughout. This is a tremendous site to watch birds and never dissapoints...

Landsort; 18th April 2012

Again, up early for seawatching at dawn, this time at Sodra Udden. The weathe was good, with clear skies and a westerly breeze. No two days are the same on this island and this time the totals were as follows;

11 Brambling, 3 Lesser Black.backed Gull, 86 Chaffinch, 8 Scaup, 27 Razorbill, 482 Common Scoter, 121 Curlew, 21 Meadow Pipit, 20 White Wagtail, 1 Arctic Skua, 6 Skylark, 1,670 Eider, 630 Long-tailed Duck, 59 Starling, 80 Velvet Scoter, 1 Red Necked Grebe, 32 Red-Throated Diver, 1 Black-thraoted diver, 1 Bean Goose and 5 Anser Geese, very likely Pink-footed...

I have no way of downloading images here, so will have to do that when I return home. Right now I,m back out birding...!


Landsort; 17th April 2012

Up at 04.15am for some breakfast and then straight to norra Udden to watch migration there. Lots of activity on the sea, thousands of Eider and hundreds of Long-tailed Duck were busy courting around the island. At least three White Tailed Eagle harried them on occasion, giving great views in the early morning. Before long settled down to watch, this proved difficult as I was alone and there was a lot to cover, no doubt I missed birds. The following totals were reached before the weather broke and I left the watchpoint..

9,444 Eider, 993 Long-tailed Duck, 158 Velvet Scoter, 77 Razorbill, 1 Arctic Tern, 9 Red-throated diver, 8 Whooper Swan, 57 Curlew, 111 Common Scoter, 1 Black-throated Diver, 18 Red-breasted Merganser, 3 Black Guillemot, 18 Chaffinch, 7 Meadow Pipit, 2 Reed Bunting, 1 Dunnock, 2 Skylark, 6 Mistle Thrus, 17 Redwing, 7 Linnet, 9 Woodpigeon, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Arctic Skua, and a Pochard...

Not a lot of photos taken due to bad light, though a good mornings birding all the same...

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Fieldsketches; Norra Järvafältet; 12th April 2012
















Fieldsketches from today, a lone flash sketch of an Osprey here, though spent most time on Green Sandpipers, which make up the rest...