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, October 22, 2014

Batumi, Saghalvasho, 29th September 2014

Torrential rain at Station 1...


What a day, with torrential rain at some points. We arrived on station with little hope for raptor passage, hoping perhaps a few Black Kite might be pushing through, though the reality was heavy rain and few birds. Nothing was passing at all and we were pinned down under the shelter watching the odd Hobby hawking insects in the occasional periods of lighter rain. After three hours we were getting raher with as the rain began to find its way through the roof. The weather was particularly nays at this point, with strong wind and squalls, the rain unrelenting. A magical little moment occurred at this point, when a lighter toned bird suddenly materialised in front of us, looming out of the mist suddenly as it fought its way up the slope of the hill and flapped past the shocked counters. a stunning Short Eared Owl a very rare species in Georgia. It was a fantastic moment, this bird was moving through some incredibly bad weather. It gave a wonderful close up view as it flew around the side of the shelter...
Soon afterwards we were forced to abandon the station due to lighting overhead, only to return at 14.30 where it became apparent that a huge fall of passerines was taking place. Redstarts and Norther Wheatears were feeding around the Station, Willow Warbler were flipping across the crest of the hill constantly, whilst Yellow Wagtail, White Wagtail, Skylark, \chaffinch and others were also sat out of the wind, a remarkable sight. At one point John Wright and I were watching a young Northern Wheatear which turned its back to us briefly, at which point a Sparrowhawk ghosted around the shelter and took the bird nonchalantly with its left foot, before drifting over the crest of the hill with its prize.
John and I were the only ones on Station as there was a slight drop off in the rain and a brief window appeared. We were amazed to see Marsh Harriers beginning to appear along the coast. They were fighting a strong headwind and rain, nevertheless they were migrating through these conditions. It was a real spectacle to see this determination, then to the east I picked up a few Steppe Buzzard, raising my binoculars only to find there were birds streaming out of the mountains in numbers. It was a phenomenal sight to see these birds move, soon there were hundreds! They were streaming out of the low clound over Big Momma, towards the coast and clearer weather, desperate to migrate. Over the rolling 20 minutes we logged 1,400 Steppe Buzzard and 15 Marsh Harrier migrating in appalling conditions, a sight which I will never forget. Among them there appeared some Alpine Swift, later we would be treated to a flock of 19 together, migrating along the coast, which was a wonderful sight, incredible flying machines.
 No sooner than it sarted, than it had stopped and a few more Marsh Harrier in the evening were the last passing raptors. We had taken a chance in the rain and it was memorable, watching these birds moving through the low cloud, mist and rain into a strong headwind was remarkable, a different kind of migration spectacle....


Batumi - Saghalvasho
Monday 29 September 2014   

Counting period: 7:05 - 17:00
Count type: Storks and raptors
Weather:
Observers: Alan Dalton, John Wright, Mélanie Browne, Mike Vandeperre, Dries Engelen, Rafa Benjumea
Honey Buzzard2Steppe Buzzard1193
Black Kite77raptor sp.1
Marsh Harrier20Turtle Dove11
Pallid Harrier2Short-eared Owl1

Totals: 1307 individuals, 8 species, 9:55 hours

Bold = Remarkable observation (scarce or rare species or large number)
Comments: Hardcore count under the storms by John and Alan (super esnickers)

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