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

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Hällögern; 25th June 2013

Another day of choirs. Happily it was the last day of work and I managed to finish the roof, as well as sort the engine out with a little help from a neighbor. A morning stint birding saw one Little Gull still present, along with the Spotted Redshank. An Osprey flew past, as did a distant Honey Buzzard, a male bird. Also new for the week was Lesser Whitethroat and Yellowhammer, though generally it was quiet. I spent my time painting and drawing, which was very nice. A scorching hot day again today, a bit of rain might be interesting bird wise...

Hällögern; Monday 24th June

Most of the day was spent on maintenance of the summer cabins, with the roofs needing painting in order to weatherproof them. Then the outboard motor needed repair and this took all day before the part required was identified. 
Eventually I got out Olin the early evening. 3 Curlew overhead were very nice to start with. I had though there might be little passage thus time of year, however there were a few birds moving and I was in for a good evening. A group of Wood Sandpiper went over, very nice indeed, though among them came the loud call of a Spotted Redshank. This cracking bird dropped in and fed distantly, though the views through the scope were excellent. This has to be one of the best waders in the world in summer dress, what a stunner! Next surprise came soon after, a harsh grating call drew my full attention before I located the culprit. An adult Caspian Tern fished over the water, a magnificent sight..
 I would of been quite happy with the above, however, there were more gems to come. I was scanning the area when My eye was drawn to a small gull with a rather dark, extensive hood. My initial suspicions were soon confirmed when the bird took to the air, a lovely adult summer Little Gull. A short time later another flew through my field of view, I soon realized there were in fact three birds present, two adult and a second calender bird. My first record of the species on the island and I was well pleased. I photo graphed these birds before simply enjoying the views. Nearby a Willow Warbler sang, whilst overhead Red Throated Divers flew past calling. The four Scaup were still present though distant. I spent the evening outside the cabin taking in the sounds of northern Sweden, Crane trumpeting, the distant calls of Red Throated Divers too. A Brambling called across the water, new for the trip, just as I headed indoors at 11pm, the sun still beaming down with dawn only three hours away!

Hällögern; Sunday 23rd June 2013

A quite day spent relaxing. I was ver tired after working a lot of later and slept late. A good look around revealed the island was rather quiet bird wise, just the regular breeding species in evidence. Birds were as expected with one notable exception, 4 Scaup were a nice bonus to the north of the island, two males with females. Spent the afternoon doing a little sketching, using my watercolour box.

The view from outside the cabin..

Hällögern; Vasterbotten; 22nd June 2013

Arrived in the island at 12.30pm after rowing out. After unpacking went for a look around. As always, Common Gulls and Arctic Terns were everywhere and sitting tight on eggs or young. White Wagtail, Siskin, Chaffinch were around also, whilst so were a surprise breeder, Kestrel. A pair had raised four young in the trees on the island, though they were hard to see well, apart from when the male returned with food.
 Offshore there were plenty of Celver Scoter, a very nice sight. Fifteen were counted with at least six pairs. A number of Red Breasted Mergansers were also present, as we're Goosander, Eider and Tufted Duck. Waders were scarce with a couple of pairs of Redshank, three pairs of Greenshank and a couple of pairs if Common Sandpiper. In the evening Crane trumpeted not far away as I relaxed for the evening, beer in hand...cheers!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

River Warbler; Jägarkullen; Norra järvafältet; 1st June 2013

I awoke early this morning, dragged myself out of bed and freshened up before heading to Norra Järvafältet for a very special species, River Warbler. News broke during the week that a bird had been found on territory, not only that, it was giving incredible views as well. I really wanted to see this species, it's been about twenty years since I last had the species in my sights in Poland. In addition, it is a species I really have wanted to sound record for some time. I was a little later than I would of liked, which was unavoidable. Any fears I had that the bird might of ceased singing by 09.30am where allayed immediately on arrival, the bird was close to the top of the thicket of rosehip bushes, reeling it's song out. I quickly grabbed a few shots, before setting up the parobol and digital recorder. The bird was a star and I got a lovely recording, which I was delighted with...

 A stunning River Warbler in full song. A very special morning with an incredibly showy bird, normally not the easiest birds to photograph...

After recording the bird, I watched ot for a while, taking in its features. Though these may appear to some to be drab birds, I think they are superb. I love the sleek lines, postures and subtle features. I took in the long undertail coverts with diagnonic markings, the broad tail and full primary projection as the bird threw it's head back and sang it's guts out, a fantastic experience! The throat markings, long bill and pinkish bare parts were all noted, which is all easily seen on a singing bird right in front of one. I could only imagine how confusing this could be on some headland in western Ireland, given brief views of a skulking bird..

 The bird gave itself up for the camera, though I didnt stay close for more than a
minute or two, not that the bird minded at all. It completely ignored me and sang constantly...

 My first view of the bird, singing from a Rosehip thicket...

I watched the bird for about 90 minutes, moving in close just once when the light improved briefly for a few shots. The light was superb and it allowed my to get some amazing shots of a species which can be difficult to photograph.
 The song is quite incredible, happily I got an excellent recording which I can paste here for your enjoyment, dear readers! Sounds like and old sewing machine, a fabulous noise indeed...

 Some might think this a drab bird, but this family of warbler's, Locustella, are among the most enigmatic of songsters. They are long range migrants which are very skulking and elusive on migration. They are incredible songsters and their curious, reeling songs are generally delivered under the cover of darkness, though they also sing morning and evening. Little is known about many of the genus, which includes some of europe's most sought after species.

Note here the detail on the throat, not unlike Thrush Nightingale. Also here, a superb view of the undertail covert's...

Here is this mornings sound recording, just click on play to listen to the bird in display...