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

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Steppe Great Grey Shrike; Lanius excubitor homyeri; Hjälstaviken; 15th October 2015




The bird I travelled for, a sub species of the Great Grey Shrike is very rare in Western Europe. Sweden has a great record with this sub species though and this was around the eight record to date. Still a very rare bird nationally. I was interested to see it on hearing about it and arrived 08.40am and decided to check Kokullen first and was rewarded straight away! The bird gave good scope views, though was too decent for and really close up photos, so the best record shot I took is here. In the shot you can make out some of the features, a strong whitish supercilious, much white on the scapulars, a hint of the white rump and large white windows on the secondary and primary bases. In the field the bird was remarkable in flight and recalled a huge Masked Shrike, suck was the visual impact when it took to the wing. The bird fed along a ditch, hovering several times at one point, when it was plain that the outer two tail feathers were completely whit and there were large white corners to the tail.
Awonderfl, wonderful bird. More to come on this soon...

Bearded Tit at Hjälstaviken; 15th October 2015.





































After checking the northern part of Hjälstaviken and doing so well I decided to spent the last few hours of the day indulging in Bearded Tits. There are at least 50 birds present in the south at Spången WWF, the dense roadbeds are ringing with their calls. On arrival I could hear small groups everywhere and got a few quick glimpses of flying birds amid the reed tops.
 I knew the birds like to feed on the raised wooden walkway that winds through the redeemed and ends at the hide and decided to bide my time and kept a low profile. Sure enough, after twenty minutes without disturbance a pair of males appeared on the walkway and began to feed, carefully checking the cracks in the weathered wood for seeds. They have learned the wind blows food across the walkway and much of it gets trapped in these tiny crevices. The birds were wonderful to watch, with a curious sinus gait on flat group, often using their feet to pry seeds from amid the cracks! The birds were not perturbed at all by my presence and several birds appeared over the course of a couple of hours and allowed me to finally get photos of this truly special species, surely one of Europe's most attractive passerines. The results are here, all digiscoped images using the Panasonic GH4, Paul Sayegh Digiadapter and Swaro ATX 95mm Scope. The light was very difficult due to the shadow thrown across the walkway by the uprights and rail, though in the end, I got some really nice images and was more than happy. What a wonderful experience...

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sandhamn; 7th October 2015

 Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male. A beast of a bill!



  Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male.



  Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male.



  Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male.



  Treecreeper



 Treecreeper



Treecreeper. these scandinavian birds are wonderful. Gleaming white underparts, broad white rear supercilium...

A fantastic day out on the island of Sandhamn, which will remain in my memory for a quite incredible movement of Goldcrest. I arrived on the island at 8am, after taking the ferry from Stavsnas at dawn. On arrival it seemed as though there were a lot of Goldcrest around, although it wasn't until a little later that things became overwhelming. I spent the first while around the village, though it seemed that every bush held Goldcrest and little else. I made my way south along the islands west coast, checking the tideline seaweed and undergrowth. A Great Grey Shrike was most welcome, it came in off the sea and moved in over the island quickly. a really nice sight. No doubt it was moving amongst the Goldcrests. I still had no idea just what was awaiting me until I got to the south end of the island and found every tree was dripping with Goldcrests. The noise was simply phenomenal at times. I have seen some large falls of birds in my time, but never anything on this scale. There were Goldcrests everywhere! I estimated the birds were in thousands rather than hundreds. I made my way to the southwest tip and the birds were most concentrated here. Sitting higher up on the rock I watched as the birds streamed out over the Baltic Sea from the last pines, it was a quite phenomenal sight to see migration on this scale. The mind boggles as to just how many Goldcrest might have been on the move today along this part of the coast, through the Stockholm Archipelago. I had contact with Anders Ericsson, who was not far away, on Svenska Hogarna. They experienced the same thing there today, the island was seething under masses of Goldcrest. I did what I could to check through the birds as they funnelled by me, though despite checking through many hundreds of Goldcrest I never did find a Yellow-browed Warbler, though I am convinced there must have been a few among the crests. There were simply so many, that I was swamped by their numbers. A conservative estimate considering I had 350 birds in 15 minutes departing out over the sea would be 2,000-3,000 birds. God only knows how many birds were involved in this mass movement, the mind boggles. Despite the fact it made finding anything rare incredibly difficult, witnessing migration on this scale is quite a privilege and the whole spectacle was breathtaking.
 I did manage a few other species all the same. In the southwest corner I had my best ever views of a group of Parrot Crossbill, a resident on the island. Two males and three female type fed only in front of me, allowing me to get some lovely video footage of these rather special birds. Among the Goldcrest were a few Treecreeper and Coal Tit. The former were glorious snow white scandinavian birds, wonderful birds. I managed a few photos with my new didgadatper, which was proving to be a real boon. Not having to drag the heavy camera and long lens was a real boon, especially as I covered a lot of ground today. The Coal Tits were also scandinavian birds, naturally, wonderfully smart in appearance. Later I had a Roughlegged Buzzrd winging its way south, whilst an adult male Merlin was the best bird of the day for me, it's been ages since I saw one. It tore past me on the west of the island, all to briefly, a tiny, dashing miracle. I had a wonderful view of it. Other bits included a White Wagtail, 3 Chiff chaff, a few Bramblings, Redwing, a Mistle Thrush. It was tough going trying to sift through the Goldcrest. Number decreased noticeably in the early afternoon though, as the birds filtered through the island. Migration is a magical thing. These birds may be on the Scottish Isles in a few days, then perhaps moving down the Irish coast. Many will move down through Demark and south into France and other countries where they will attempt to survive the winter, before returning to the Taiga next spring. A quite amazing day...

Video of Adult Male Parrot Crossbill Here...

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Diurnal Migration at 30 M Kärret, Norra Järvafältet, 1st October 2015

A wonderful morning at 30 M Kärret, which unfolded after I awake early and decided to get out before work for a few hours. I arrived early at the site and was a little disappointed to find quite a bit of grey cloud developing. There were a lot of Fieldfare and Chaffinch moving to the southwest throughout. among them came the odd Meadow Pipit, often going over in small groups. It wasn't long before the first of 15 or so Sparrowhawk were picked up as they migrated south. Small numbers of Redwing, Blackbird, Redpoll, Siskin, Goldfinch also went over, whilst a single Reed Bunting and a Mistle Thrush were also heard overhead. A single Common Snipe was flushed, also no Great Snipe at this, an excellent site for the species.
 After an hour or so I locked onto my main target of the outing, a superb juvenile Rough'legged Buzzard, the first of four birds moving south. A Great Grey Shrike performed well throughout the morning and Goshawk, Common Buzzard and a White Tailed Eagle livened things up over the morning. Then. just after eleven a raptor appeared among three Common Buzzard, there were a few momements of confusion due to the white inner tail and expectancy of another Rough-legged Buzzard. It didn't take long for a sense of scale to be realised and a roar went up, a superb Golden Eagle had materialised and proceeded to give stunning, prolonged views for at least 12 minutes. It really was a stunner, only my fourth ever and my first non juvenile. This was a second calendar at least and it blew me away. I hadn't brought the DSLR, though the blow was softened by the fact I managed some decent video footage of the bird being mobbed by a Raven. Olle Bernard was present and as it eventually floated over out heads he got some excellent still shots...
Below is some videos and a few distant record shots. The rest of the time was spent looking through the scope and enjoying this magnificent bird...

Golden Eagle Video Here;


Great Grey Shrike; Video Below


And a few shocking record digiscopes below...