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, August 31, 2012

White Tailed Eagles; Landsort; August 2012

 Above; A near Adult White Tailed Eagle flies the island, note that the bird is ringed...


 A fresh juvenile, note the pristine flight feathers...


 The same juvenile bird here...


The same bird as in the top image here moving along the east of Landsort...



Images here of White Tailed Eagle from Landsort. I saw many birds over the four day trip to the island and it's hard to know how many birds were involved, though at least ten individuals would seem probable. Ofeten the birds were far offshore resting on the oslets, on occasion the came much closer. Early in the morning, at dawn, they could be found sat on the tip of Sodra Udden. At the north of the island there were three recently fledged juenile birds jusy offshore, one of which was captured with the camera and is posted here. One of the hightlights of the trip was watching two adult birds hunting am Eider offshore. The pair had managed to get above the Eider, which tried repeatedly to dive undrwater to escape. The adult pair worked as a team to force it down again immediately on surfacing, by stooping at it on sight. After around 15 minutes the Eider was tiring and eventually on of the eagles crashed into the sea after it. The Eider was far from finished, depite trying four times to lift it's prey from the water and carry it to land the eider managed to drag the eagle down into the sea each time. The eagle must of been soaked through, I watched as the Eider towed it around the surface for some time. Eventually, the Eagles mate reappeared and took the Eider from it's mate, lifting it to a nearby islet, where the drama came to an end...

Migrating Sparrowhawks; Landsort; August 2012












A few images here grabbed on Landsort of migrating Sparrowhawk, not seen in large numbers, though the commonest raptor of the trip nonetheless. Next month will see these birds moving in large numbers as they leave the country for the winter. In a few weeks I travel to Batumi, Georgia, to witness the largest raptor migration in Europe. These birds will feature, as will huge numbers of Honey Buzzard, Steppe Buzzard, Black Kite, Pallid, Montagu's and Hen Harriers, Booted, Short Toed, Greater Spotted, Lesser Spotted and Steppe Eagles as well as a host of other species. Should be quite an experience..

Migration; Landsort; 30th August 2012

 A mixed flock here, which was the order of the day. Here a single Teal with a few Dunlin and 2 Curlew Sandpiper. Most birds were at range on the day, though a few came close enough to allow a few record shots to be taken for posterity..


 Migrating Dunlin, hundreds were logged on the day, always low over the water in flocks up to thirty birds...

 A Lesser Black-backed Gull migrating, note the innermost primaries have been dropped. This species moults on the wintering grounds..


 A flock of Wigeon moving over the tip of Landsort...


 Pintail were seen in their hundreds, the toat for the whole day exceeding 1000 birds! An exceptional count on an exceptional day..


 Flocks of dabbling duck were the order of the day, with Wigeon and Pintail making up 99% of the birds. Here a typical flock, moving low over the water into the wind...


 A mixed flock, here again are Pintail and Wigeon, with a single Shoveler in their midst...


 Migrating Hobby. All of the migration had not gone unnoticed it seemed. One of the highlights of the days was the sudden appearance of one of these birds low over the sea, scything though a flock of migrating Dunlin and splitting it in two. The hunt was unsuccessful on that occasion, but remarkable to witness...


 Migrating Black Headed Gulls...


 A group of migrating Knot, adults and juveniles were often distinguishable, even at some range...


A large flock of migrating Oystercatcher moving south...


A series of images here from yesterday of migrating birds offshore at Landsort. A full account of the days birding can be found below, here a few record images give some impression of the birding. Many species were noted, though Pintail, Wigeon and Dunlin were the predominent species on the day. Watching large scale migration such as this on the baltic coastline is a remarkable birding experience, though an onshore wind and the right conditions and timing are required in order to witness large scal movements such as that witnessed yeasterday..


Butterflies; Landsort; August 2012


Baltic Grayling; A very common species on the island and is found commonly..


Silver Washed Fritillary; A few around, common right now and widespread..

A couple of images here of butterflies from Landsort earlier this week...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Landsort; 30th August 2012

Dawn watch was decided best at Sodra Udden at first light, Raul Vicente joined me. I had been supposed to leave the previous day, though a promised Southeasterly, F4, forced a rethink and I decided to stay until today. On arrival at the light house a mixed flock of Pintail and Wigeon passed, then another of Teal. Then a flock of Dunlin, birds were moving and the southeast wind was pushing them close to the island. We relocated to the southeast of the rocky shoreline, tucked in behind a wall and enjoyed what would prove a remarkable day of Baltic sea-watching. Flocks of dabbling duck and waders prevailed, usually mixed and the result was a fantastic experience as we sifted through the birds looking for other, less common species. In short, it was one of those days when things come right and we had some remarkable totals as well as some birding of the highest quality. Between 05.40-13.40 we had the following;
203 Teal, 434 Wigeon, 407 Pintail, 292 Common Scoter, 429 Dunlin, 152 Common/Arctic Tern, 11 Shoveler, 4 Red Throated Diver, 4 RED NECKED GREBE, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 1 Little Stint, 11 Grey Plover, 29 Knot, 10 Bar Tailed Godwit, 5 Ringed Plover, 61 Oystercatcher, 8 Golden Plover, 4 Arctic Skua, 4 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 4 Red Breasted Merganser, 9 Velvet Scoter, 1 Pochard, 4 White Tailed Eagle, 3 Hobby and a probable Red Necked Phalarope.
At that point I had to leave, pack and clean my room at the observatory before getting the last ferry off the island leaving Raul still birding. An unforgettable experience, what an astonishing island to be birding on...



Landsort; 29th August 2012

Another great days birding, with a little bit of quality..
Dawn saw me at Sodra Udden this time. A southwesterly was blowing as light broke and the first bird was a colossal juvenile Goshawk which briefly landed in front of me before scrambling away at the sight of me peering at it! From 05.40-10.40 the following were logged;

79 Common Gull, 4 White Tailed Eagle, 47 Black Headed Gull, 64 Common Scoter, 146 Eider, 1 Dunlin, 2 Oystercatcher, 3 Pintail, 79 Cormorant, 3 Scaup, 2 Red Throated Diver, 12 Goosander, 4 Grey Plover, 46 Teal, 4 Tufted Duck, 116 Common/Arctic Tern, 3 Ringed Plover, 5 Arctic Skua, 57 Swallow, 46 Wigeon, 1 MERLIN, 4 Sparrowhawk, 4 Velvet Scoter and a rarity, 1 SANDWICH TERN, which flew southwest.

An evening watch from Vasarbunkern brought another rarity, a POMARINE SKUA! A second calendar bird I saw hassling a Common Gull before it headed around the corner, the I'd nailed beyond doubt by newly arrived Raul Vicente who was sitting on the SE corner.
following that came a large mixed flock of migrating duck, 45 odd Pintail and Wigeon with a single Shoveler in their midst at dusk. Another cracking days birding...










Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Landsort; 28th August 2012

Up before dawn and prepared breakfast and a packed lunch and headed to Norrudden for dawn. A light northeasterly was blowing and it was obvious birds were moving. Overhead Tree Pipit, Yellow Wagtail and other passerines were streaming off the island toward the mainland as I began counting. I recorded with the Parabol for four hours, having set it up in the headland pointing upwards, leaving it to tape the mornings migrants whilst I got on with birding. From 06.15-13.15 I tallied the following...

81 Tree Pipit, 75 Willow Warbler, 26 Golcrest, 17 Yellow Wagtail, 139 White Wagtail, 2 Wigeon, 1 Common Sandpiper, 559 Cormorant, 212 Meadow Pipit, 4 Cuckoo, 2 Red Throated Diver, 33 Chaffinch, 1 Common Whitethroat, 5 Sparrowhawk, 4 Hobby, 2 Kestrel, 46 Swallow, 91 House Martin, 1 Whinchat, 4 Common Redpoll, 6 Teal, 4 Scaup, 47 Black headed Gull, 44 Pintail, 12 Grey Plover, 1 Greenshank, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 26 Bar Tailed Godwit, 1 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Fieldfare, 1 Green Sandpiper, 19 Wood Pigeon, 1 Curlew, 1 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 5 Raven, 2 Ringed Plover, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Stunning birding! After that I ambled back slowly to the observatory, without many birds being seen on the way. On arrival at Bredmar a raptor came in off the sea, a cracking juvenile Honey Buzzard, my first of the year...
The evening was spent at Vadarbunkern and Sodra , though not much to show for it, except for 5 White Tailed Eagle offshore harrying gulls for food. All in all a cracking days birding...






Monday, August 27, 2012

Landsort; 27th August 2012

Having arrived the previous evening, I was up for dawn at 04.30am only to find the weather forecast had been accurate, a strong northwest wind and driving rain saw me back in bed for two hours. Northwestly and strong is a bad combination for migration here, which is what I had come in the hope of seeing, namely diurnal migration. The hope was to auto record the pre dawn period, a four hour period of constant recording in order to get some migrant species calls. Sadly the wind was far too strong this morning and the Telinga Parabol stayed in the observatory...
After the rain relented I headed north and was in position at the north point, Norrudden, after 45 minutes. The usual watch point was raked by the wind and I was forced to moved back a short way to find some shelter from it. Birds here can be distant and it pays to have a position where optics can be steadied. Eventually, I settled in in the lee of a rocky outcrop..
From 08.30-15.30 the area between the mainland, directly overhead and behind me was monitored care fully for migrants, visually and aurally. It soon became apparent that little was moving in the strong wind, this would be a tough session. The odd bird was picked up all the same and there is always the chance of a rarity here. It became apparent that a small number of birds had been either swept out to see or had struggled across the Baltic Sea and these came from behind me, flying directly into the wind toward the mainland along the islands west side. Though sparse, birds were moving in a trickle, the following was noted...

5 Yellow Wagtail(NW), 3 Cuckoo(NW) 2 juv.&1 adult, 11 Sparrowhawk(SW), 2 Kestrel, 6 White Tailed Eagles, 1 Osprey, 3 Hobby(NW), 83 Black Headed Gull(SW), 272 Cormorant, 2 Arctic Skua(SW), 18 Meadow Pipit( NW), 13 Woodpigeon, 74 House Martin(NW), 2 Sand Martin(NW), 11 Swallow(NW), 7 Common Swift(NW), 5 Common Tern(SW), 1 Arctic Tern(E), 1 Red Breasted Merganser, 5 Goosander, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Wood Sandpiper(SW), 1 Spotted Flycatcher( NW), 1 Willow Warbler(NW), 1 Black Throated Diver(SW), 3 Lesser Black-backed Gull(SW), 450 Eider(offshore).

Given that there were approaching a thousand wildfowl, hundreds of waders and many more passer ones just a day previously this was rather lean pickings, though I reminded myself that this species list would be a memorable haul elsewhere. Even though it was just a trickle, there is something magical about seeing migration like this..
The walk back was quiet, another Cuckoo, several Sparrowhawk and a couple of Red Backed Shrike were the best. An evening watching Bredmar added another Hobby and a lone juvenile Marsh Harrier at the death before I prepared food, organized my notes and got the weather forecast. Light Northwesterly swinging round to Sourhwesterly early afternoon, improving prospects for birding considerably...
Photos etc. to follow on my return to Stockholm...



Friday, August 24, 2012

Goosander Brood; Stockholm Strom; 24th August 2012

























Images here of a brood of Goosander from Stockholm city centre at Strommen. A female and nine fledged young were alternating between hunting in the rapids and preening in slack water, often at quite close range. The lemon tones in the plumage are really nice....

Friday, August 17, 2012

Temminck's Stint; Watercolour Sketch; Hällägern;





A Watercolour sketch here of Temmink's Stint done earlier this month in the field at Hällägern, Västerbotten.


Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Gulls; Skeppsbron; 7th August 2012

 Light Mantled LBBG; a bird at least in it's fourth calender year. Just how mant of these birds is visitibg the site is very hard to say, but there are at least four birds invloved of this age or older...




 Another bird here, a second Light Mantled bird, probably in it's fourth calender year. The dark markings on the upper primary covert's are a key ageing feature. A third bird photographed this morning showed dark marks on the culmen, so at least three of these birds at the site today..


 Here one can see the striking diiference in upperpart tone, the bird in the foreground being a nominate Fuscus(Baltic Gull). 







 A Baltic LBBG here, a second calender type. Note the iris is already light, likewise the base of the bill..




 Above and below; A very nicely marked first calender Baltic LBBG. These birds are very variable in appearance.They often show a dark eye surround as this one does. Note the soloidlt dark tertials with creamy fringes at the tips. Unusually there is an indication of a thin, paler tip to the primaries, though this bird is in very fresh plumage and this will soon fade...






 A different, more tidily marked, 1st Calender Lesser Black-backed Gull. A classic bird structurally, note the slimline appearance, attenuated rear and long primary projection.




A Greater Black-backed Gull, a first calender. This is the first Marinus in it's age group to appear at the site this year. The bird is still growing it's primaries, accounting for the rather short appearance of the wongs. The bird is big, very bulky and the bil is much deeper than Herring Gull. Note the pattern ot the tertials, covert's and scapulars..

Discussion here of various birds seen today during my routine check of the gulls at Skeppsbron...


Small Skipper(Thymelicus sylvestris) in Sweden


Yesterday, whilst out with the macro lens I photographed what I believed to be a Small Skipper(Thymelicus sylvestris). Clearly visible in this close up shot are the fulvous tips to the antennae. A pity this was not a male, as id is then made even easier..
 I am being told that this species does not occur in Sweden. Checking the distribution maps in The Collin's Guide to the Butterflies of Europe, this seems to be the case.
 There is the posiibility that the species has expanded into Sweden or is present at a small number of formerly overlooked sites sites. The photo taken yesterday makes a compelling case the species has reached Stockholm..
 In the meantime I have made a number of enquiries. I am hoping an expert can confirm an id for me. At present I am in the dark as regards to the variability of Essex Skipper and if they can show fulvous tips to the antennae. Watch this space...



Monday, August 06, 2012

Butterflies and Dragonflies; Broängarna; 6th August 2012

 Brown Hairstreak; The first time I have specifically identified this species, nice to get a decent shot and certainly glad I threw the macro lens into the bag...




 Above and below; A rather tatty Heath Fritillary, this is a good site to see the species..







 Above and below; Essex Skipper. Note the dark tips to the antennae, which seperates the species from it's close relative, the Small Skipper. At least one Small Skipper was also identified in the same area, the two species side by side.





 Small Skipper; Here you can see the fulvous tips to the underside of the antennae tips clearly. The first time I have seperated these two in the field and nice to get shots to demonstrate this..




Hoverfly on Thistle..

 Had a look around today for Dragonflies and Butterflies today, seeing several species with John Costello. Broängarna is a very good site for both. Darters were everywhere, Common Darter, Black Darter and Ruddy Darter were all identified. Brown Hawker(Aeshna grandis) was quite abundant too, as were Moorland Hawker(Aeshna juncea) over the ponds on the golf course, hunting over the water and chasing other species away. The most common of these were Four Spotted Chaser(Libellula quadrimaclata), a few of which were at the ponds. Many more were found at shallow pools with much Yellow Iris, here they were into double figures. In the grass around the whole area Common Bluetuail(Ischnura elegans) was extremely Common. The only blue damsels I looked at proved to be Northern Damselflies(Coenagrion hastulatum) Despite searching we found no Large Redeye(Erythromma najas), they were plentyful at the site we checked last year. A major surprise came late in the outing whn an odonate flew right over us, its banded wings clearly seen by both of us. My first Banded Demoisselle(Callopteryx splendens) flew straight past and kept going, we wondered where it came from as we are not aware of any running water in the area. High above in the skies, dragonflies were hawking everywhere and we wondered what species they were..
 Butterflies were not as plentiful, though, Peacock, Large White and Brimstone were commonplace. My first Brown Hairstreak was very nice indeed, whilst several Skipper sp. were chased down and photographed, the first time I have specifically done so and seperated Essex Skipper and Small Skipper from each other. Also photographed was a single Heath Fritillary, a rather worn example.
All in all a very productive morning out in the field!