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, November 18, 2014

Caspian Stonechat, race 'hemprichii', Batumi Harbour, 2nd October 2014

 First bird photographed, typical impression was of a rather pallid Stonechat. Nice apricot wash over the breast and flanks, with quite clean whitish belly and vent. Typical appearance of the head here. with darker ear covert's and throat contrasting with lighter brown crown.

 Here a male gives a superb view of the tail as its swallows a Darter sp. The wheatear like pattern on the tail is striking, with well over 50% the tail feathers being white, indeed, substantially more. This key feature dictates that these birds belong to the northern taxa of Caspian Stonechat, ssp. 'hemprichii'. The southern taxa is now referred to a ssp. 'variagata' and has considerably more dark in the tail, more than 50% of the tail feathers appearing dark.

 This individual was rather dark on the breast and flanks. Note the white on the central throat, a common feature with male birds at the site.

 Note the darker ear coverts and throat, typical of Caspian Stonechat, which shows a lighter brown crown and forehead.

 Again, note the pallid appearance, as well as the white rump, dark ear coverts and throat and light apricot wash across the breast and flanks on this male bird...

From behind a remarkably striking bird. Note the contrasting appearance. The dark areas on the tail contrasts with the outer tail and white rump. There is also extensive white in the wing at the tips of the inner greater coverts and bases of the outer tertials. Also apparent here is a pale, well demarciated collar. This is not a bird that one might walk past in western Europe without casting a second glance..

This individual doesn't shot a great deal of white at the tips of the inner greater covert's, or on the fringes of the tertials.The crown, mantle and scapulars are rather light toned also. It seems there is considerable variation in these bird.

 The same bird as in the photo directly above and the only shot I managed showing a hint of the dark auxiliaries and underwing primary coverts. Easily seen in the field, with strong contrast between these and the pale flanks in flight. Note also the pale rump and upper tail covert's with a light apricot wash...

 A female type. Not enough photos taken I'm afraid. Note the pale edges to the tertials and secondaries, pale apricot rump, which was striking in the field. Ome dark in front of the eye and running under the eye along the ear covert's. Indistinct supercilium, particularly behind the eye. Obvious pale throat and pale underparts.

 Again a male here at close range...

 A rather warm toned male here, not as contrastingly marked as some, a rather unremarkable individual.

Another rather drab bird, again a rather nondescript male?

Photos here of a host of Caspian Stonechats, with discussion below the photos. The harbour area was crawling with these birds on the day and it was rather overwhelming. One could happily spend a few days grilling these birds alone in order to learn as much as possible.

Video footage here, click on settings to view HD

No comments: