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, October 13, 2014

Saghalvasho, 20th September 2014

What a day this proved to be. There had been some bad weather forecast, the previous night we were told a deep low pressure system was on its way, which was likely to halt migration. We were not quite prepared for the heavy rain however..
 Station 1 was the venue today, which in hindsight, was rather fortunate, given its close proximity to our accommodation. The day started off overcast and dark, with light rain. On arrival at the counting shelter, there was very little moving. A couple of flocks of Great White Egret were picked up early over the sea. As always there were Bee Eaters passing, though it seemed there were rather higher numbers of passerines, with a lot of Tree Pipit and the odd Red Throated Pipit flying over. An early bird included a small falcon, which proved to be a Merlin, a rather rare bird in Batumi and my first for Georgia. This was not to be followed by many more raptors however, though we did have a few Black Kite going through the weather, a fantastic sight. Then came a few Steppe Buzzard, a couple of Pallid Harriers, a Honey Buzzard, also going through in bad conditions. The birds were low down though, which was worrying as there were hunters in the area and we were worried for the welfare of and migrating raptors. Communication with Shuamta told us they had some movement of birds, especially Steppe Buzzard, though it was around this time that conditions really started to deteriorate.
The rain increased dramatically sand we were soon reduced to practically no visibility and sheets of rain hammered down and the shelter began to take a real pounding as a rather gusty wind picked up in tandem. Over in the mountains at Shuamta, we warned the other counters to take cover there.




 The shelter was not coping as well as the counters,  who were still in good spirits watching the extreme weather. Rain began to find its way through the roof and before long we were getting rather wet ourselves. This was not beneficial. We stuck it out for a couple of hours before there was a turn for the worse, thunder began to sake the skies and in rather strong winds the centre of the storm was over us quickly. The air was charged with electricity, which became ominously apparent when Dries Engelens long hair stood on end, directly upwards. This comic interlude, of sorts, had more serious implications and we took cover as the first lighting strike flashed over the sea. Then came a very loud, huge crack of lightning, right over our heads which seems to hit the hillside on the west of our position. This was far too close and was rather frightening. We had to abandon the hilltop, as the storm was directly overhead, though we could not leave immediately as it was to risky at that time. We waited for the storm to move off and headed back to the house, where tea and food were most welcome. Station 2 had a much rougher day than us, they were really stuck on the mountain and had a few soaked, wind chilled hours to deal with until the worst passed.

 Later in the afternoon there seemed to come a brief respite and we decided to go back up to station, though it proved an all to brief window. A few Black Kites were memorable though, going straight through some really bad weather in hard as nails fashion. An Eastern Black Eared Wheatear was among the Northern Wheatear behind the stations and it was very apparent that the storm was grounding migrating passerines. Despite this, the conditions deteriorated rapidly, this time the decision was taken to head down for the day due to safety issues because of lightning. We spent the late afternoon at the house waiting for the team from Shuamta to get back, which they eventually did after a really tough day of rough wether, with much flooding on the roads on their return. The forecast for the following day was just as bad and we decided to head down to the Cafe for a few beers in the evening were we had a good time, despite the poor weather..

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