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

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Migrant Reed Warblers at Batumi Harbour, 2nd October 2014

BIRD 1. Putative Caspian Reed Warbler at Batumi Harbour, Georgia. On a day when thousands of Reed Warbler were present it was a great opportunity to get some photos of these birds in the field for later analysis. Given the location it seems Caspian Reed Warbler should not only be present, but should perhaps be prevalent? Assume nothing and examine the photographs I figured, everything should fall into place...

BIRD 1. On this view a Reed Warbler indeed, though nothing remarkable and certainly not identifiable to race. Many of these birds looked very warm toned in the field in general, with darkish lords from a head on angle, obvious eyeing and poorly marked supercilium.

BIRD 1. This is a key shot and it shows the detail of the wing formula. Note the long outer most P2, which falls equal to or is slightly longer than P4. Also, p3 can be seen here to be emarginated. Note the presence of distinct white tips to the primaries on both outer and inner webs. Note also the whitish tips to the tertials. This surely shows a Caspian Reed Warbler A. (scirpaceus) fuscus.

BIRD 1.The same bird here as above, showing classic Caspian Reed Warbler features, best seen in the lower shot above here.

BIRD 2. Things were far from simple! Views of these skulking birds varied, as one might expect. This one seems to show less white on the primary and tertial tips. Inconclusive at best...

BIRD 3. Another bird which I think shows enough for identification as Caspian Reed Warbler. Note again the whitish primary tips. This bird showed a very warm rump. Distinct eyeing and supercilium not extending beyond the eye...

BIRD 3. Note the rather clean underparts, with warmer flanks.

BIRD 4. A typical view of Reed Warbler. 

BIRD 5. An interesting couple of shots here of a bird showing no whitish  tips on the primary fringes, or on the tertials. A very fresh plumaged bird this, almost surely a first calendar bird.

BIRD 5. Note here the better view of a rather bright looking rump, noticeably lighter rufous tan the rest of the upper parts.

BIRD 6. Again, note the primary tips on this bird. Also note the rather pale tips to the tail feathers on this individual.

BIRD 6. Again showing a rather warm rump, distinct eye ring and similar super cilium as the other birds.


BIRD 7. Yet again, distant white primary and tertial tips.

BIRD 8. A somewhat different looking bird here, which I suspect is an adult. Looking closely at the terias, primary coverts and other retraces, it is apparent that this bird is showing a great deal of wear in these feathers, indicative of a non juvenile bird. 

BIRD 8. Here, yet again, the pale primary tips, not as apparent in this bird, due to feather wear. The wear in the trials is very apparent in this photo. Adult birds are greatly outnumbered on passage by 1st calendar birds, particularly late in the autumn.

BIRD 8. Note the here long primary projection, the bird showing eight primaries projecting past the tertials. The primaries appear rather dark on comparison to the rest of the retraces at rest, a classic feature of Reed warbler. 

BIRD 9. This bird was digiscoped at longer range, though looked rather pale in the field. Looking at the photos one might struggle to even determine this bird as a Reed Warbler. Impressions in the filed are very subjective, dependent of the light and a host of other factors.

BIRD 9. Note the warmer toned rump, whilst the facial pattern and supercilium are indicative of Reed Warbler also.

Here a selection of shots of migrant Reed Warblers from Batumi Harbour, all taken on 2nd October 2014. It would seem the huge majority of the Reed Warblers present at the site were indeed Caspian Reed Warbler, as one might expect, given the location. As always, once you start to look closely at numbers of birds, variation begins to be encountered. with these birds, many showed very distinct whitish primary tips, often extending to the  secondaries and tertials. Some birds showed rather pale tipped tail feathers, particularily on the outer tail feathers. Others, seen quiet well, showed rather dark primaries.
A handful of very cold toned, distinctly greyish birds were seen in the field, though I did not manage any DSLR images of these birds at close range, though we suspected these were birds from further east. These birds are extremely difficult to see well in the field, due to their skulking behaviour. Even when they show well, it is often so briefly, that getting a clear picture of the bird is extremely difficult. Photographs are invaluable in this regard.

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