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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Hawk Owl; Libroback, Uppsala; 7th December 2015 copy

Hawk Owl; As always, a total stunner...

The Libroback Hawk Owl had been present for a few weeks and when a friend, Dries Engelen, arrived from Holland to stay in Stockholm for a few days, it was decided Uppsala was due a visit. Dries had seen Hawk Owl once before, but there was no way we could pass up the chance of another before we set out looking for a Great Grey Owl. We arrived at Libroback early and spent forty minutes looking for the bird in vain. It then suddenly appeared, attracting the attention of several birder's, icluding us. The views were magnificent, a stunning bird as always. We Watched it for an hour before moving on to the woodland site were Great Grey Owl had been reported..













A classic pose. All images digiscoped with panasonic GH4.








Almost falling asleep at one point. No prey was caught whilst we were present, though the bird seems in very good health...


Birding in Salalah, 31st October 2015


We awoke full of antcipation on out first morning in Salalah and quicly grabbed our gear as the sun started to rise over the Arabian Sea. We made our way to the nearby East Kwahr, a small inlet beside the hotel and a well known birding site. The site was full of birds as we approached along the beach and we got out and began to scan the flocks. We had just started sorting through the waders when a Honey Buzzard was picked up being mobbed by a falcon. Both landed and the falcon was determined to be a Lanner Falcon, a juvenile bird without jesses, a good record. The buzzard soon took to the air and was determined to be a Crested/Eurasian Honey Buzzard hybrid. It was a great start to the morning. The falcon sat briefly before flying away strongly and would not return.
Back to the waders and other species. Avocet was new for the trip, among a group of Black Winged Stilts. Squacco Heron were numerous and the views were crippling, whilst a much rarer species was an Intermediate Egret, another lifer for me. Whiskered Tern, Little Stints, Greenshank, Redshank, Bar tailed Godwit, Greater Flamingo, Ringed Plover, Osprey, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Saunders Tern and Common Kestrel were all seen easily from the south end. It was quite simply wonderful birding, right next to the hotel.
At the inner part of the Kwahr we had lifers in the form of African Silverbill, Tristams Grackle and Ruppells Weaver. A highlight here was an adult Calidus Peregrine Falcon blasting overhead, a powerful sight. Both Daurian and Turkestan Shrike were seen well, Grace Prinia too. Clamourous Reed Warblers were seen with patience, more often heard. A Temminck's Stint was flushed here from the creek. As the sun rose and the heat cranked up a notch we began to get hungry. We headed back for breakfast at the hotel, stopping off again where we started. 300 Ruff, 92 Glossy Ibis and a Little Ringed Plover, a trip first, had now joined the wader roost, whilst a Purple Heron was now visible along the reeds on the west of the lagoon....


A Lanner Falcon in the distance, a terrible digiscope for record...


Graceful Prinia, common at the inner Khawr, close to the roadbeds.


Above and below; Intermediate Egret, a lifer for me that morning...




Turkestan Shrike, by this stage a familiar bird on the trip...


Hybid type Crested/Eurasian Honey Buzzard


Greenshanks dwarf Little Stint, along with a Little/Saunders Tern. 


Greenshank and Redshank at East Khawr


A stunning Daurian Shrike


Osprey washing it's talons...


Squacco Heron


Squacco Heron


Squacco Heron


Scuacco Heron


Squacco Heron


Glossy Ibis and Ruff at East Khawr

Video footage of Glossy Ibis and Ruff at East Khawr


   After breakfast, a quick trip to the beach in front of our hotel was prompted by three Socotra Cormorants seen from our table! The lifer was seen whilst enjoying an omelette!  Swift Tern, Saunders Tern, Gull Billed Tern, Sooty Gull, Steppe Gull and Heuglins Gull were all loafing on the beach. Best was an adult Masked Booby offshore fishing. There were some close birds and the photo opportunities were good. It was hard to drag ourselves away, but one of the most anticipated site beckoned, the Waste Disposal site at Raysut...


Steppe Gull; 3rd Calendar


Steppe Gull; 1st Calendar


Steppe Gull; 1st Calendar


Heuglins Gull


Steppe Gull


Heuglin's Gull; 1st Calendar


Heuglin's Gull; 1st Calendar


Heuglin's Gull; 1st Calendar


Heuglins's Gull; 1st Calendar


Swift Tern


Raysut Dump was reached after around 20 minutes and well before we arrived at the gates we noticed an increase in large eagels, that is Steppe Eagles.. As we approached the dump we could see huge kettles of Steppe Eagles high over the dump and the adrenaline began to flow. We presented our entrance permission from the Ministry of the Environment at the gate, which was accepted. We entered and spent a while approaching some of the many perched birds along the perimeter fence. The views were amazing to us, the best at close range. Then we spent a while finding the best spot to position ourselves and from there we photographed and watched the birds down to just metres at times. It was a mind blowing experience.
 We settled on a high area close to some offal and Camal carcasses. The small was appalling in the high tempertures though there was a high concentration of birds here and we stuck it out. The scene was quite something to behold. Below us was a huge crater that had been scooped out of the earth, at the bottom of which were many car wrecks and machinery, much of which was being consumed by fire. Huge plumes of smoke rose in to the air in a few places and eagles were circling over this apocalyptic scene, which resembled something from a Mad Max movie. Other birds included Sooty Gull, White Stork and a few Abdim's Stork. Though the latter were lifer's we were still more focused on the eagles and we began to study the birds more carefully..
Having spent time at Batumi as a counter, this was quite incredible. At Batumi, any Steppe Eagle within a kilometre range was considered close, here we eventually balked at photographing birds more than fifty metres away! The birds were close and the light was simply stunning. A minimum of 400 Steppe Eagle were present, with some Greater Spotted Eagle thrown in for good measure. Best of all were at least 4 Eastern Imperial Eagles, an adult and three 1st calendar year birds. The views of the latter were phenomenal. Throw in a few White Stork, a lifer in the form of some Abdim Storks and the four hours we spent there today ranks as one of the most memorable birding experiences of my life. The birds were sweeping past us down to a few metres and we were often left with our jaws on the ground, the views were simply devastating. The light was so good that every feather detail was appaent in our images, once we had carefully paid attention to our camera settings. This was the photographic opportunity of a lifetime, we took thousands of images between us in the five hours we spent there. The images speak for themselves...
 I have posted a few shots here, though I will return to these birds in a series of special posts at a later stage, there are just so many images to process and study...


The situation is probably best summed up visually by this video, much of which was filmed on my iPhone....

Greater Spotted Eagle; 1st Calendar Year


White Stork


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calendar


Greater Spotted Eagle; 1st Calender


Steppe Eagle


Steppe Eagle; Immature. 3rd or 4th Calendar.


Steppe Eagle; 1st Calendar


Steppe Eagle; 1st Calendar


Steppe Eagle, 2nd Calendar?


Steppe Eagle


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calendar


Black Kite, but a rather slim bird...


Aquilla's over Raysut


Steppe Eagle; Sub Adult


Steppe Eagle


Steppe Eagle; 1st Calendar


Steppe Eagle


Black Kite


Steppe Eagle; 1st Calendar


Steppe Eagles at Rest


Eastern Imperial Eagle; 1st Calendar


Steppe Eagle; 1st Calendar


Steppe Eagle; 1st Calender at Rest


Daniel photographing Aquilla's at Raysut.


Steppe Eagle; 1st Calendar


Greater Spotted Eagle; 1st Calendar


Steppe Eagle; 3rd Calendar?


Wouter at Raysut


Steppe Eagle; 2nd Calendar?


Steppe Eagle


Steppe Eagle





 After a while we decided to leave the dump, vowing to return a second time. The car and our clothes were reeking and we decided to head to the coast. After a brief discussion, we went to a nearby headland to check the sea ahead of the incoming cyclone. A huge tropical storm was headed our way and was being touted as potentially devastating, should it make direct landfall in Salalah. As birder's, we were more interested in what birds it might result in, though we were wary of it and knew we had to keep a close eye on it over the coming days. We first stopped of at a beach and had what we thought was a Crested Honey Buzzard overhead briefly! We then made for a lighthouse on the cliffs and started watching the sea. It was calm and there were no strong winds as yet. Offshore around 50 Persian Shearwater were rafting and plunge feeding. A good bird was a Brown Booby, a lifer for me, which was perched on a buoy. It later passed to the west. A few shearwaters were seen at extreme range, though we had to concede certain identification was not possible, though these were 99% likely to be Flesh Footed Shearwater's.. There were other frustrating birds further out, though we did have at least 10 Bridled Tern, which was nice. An Arctic Skua and two Red necked Phalarope were also seen. Best of all was another fly by, the same Crested Honey Buzzard being mobbed by crows. We grabbed some photos and later realized we had misidentified the bird in the field, this was a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle!
The light was fading as we headed for West Kwahr in the west, it was full of birds. Black tailed Godwits, 2 Temminck's Stint, Redshank, Greenshank, Pintail, Shoveler, Garganey, Little Grebe, 1 Indian Pond Heron, Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Little Egret, Whiskered Tern, Common Tern, Saunders Tern, Citrine Wagtail, Desert Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, Moorhen, Caspian Tern and Marsh Harrier. A few Saunder Tern adults were well seen, as ws a Common Tern on the beach. The birding was so very enjoyable on the day, which had flown past...
Off the beach we had a couple more Bridled Tern west, whilst far out Shearwaters were present. The sun dropped down and a most memorable day came to an end. Amazing...
 That evening we went into Salalah and had a wonderful Lebanese meal and iscussed our day and made our plans for the following day. It was nice to have no long distances to cover from now on, the birding sites around Salalah were all in a close radius and we were looking forward to days packed with birding...



Bonelli's Eagle, Raysut.


Bonelli's Eagle, Raysut.

Summary of birds noted;
East Khawr: Glossy Ibis 92, Purple Heron 1, Intermediate Egret 1, hybrid honey buzzard (Crested x European) 1 (female), Marsh Harrier 1, Greater Spotted Eagle 1, Peregrine Falcon 1 (adult), Lanner Falcon 1 (juv.), Kestrel 1, Avocet 1, Little-ringed Plover 2, Little Stint 40, Curlew Sandpiper 1, Redshank 48, Greenshank 18, Bar-tailed Godwit 6, Black-tailed Godwit 1, Ruff 300, Whiskered Tern 10, White-winged Black Tern 17, Common Whitethroat 1, Daurian Shrike 2. 
Raysut waste disposal: Abdim’s Strok 2, White Stork 4, Black Kite 2 (subspecies aegyptius), Imperial Eagle 4, Steppe Eagle 400, Greater Spotted Eagle 5, Yellow Wagtail 40, Barn Swallow 50. 
Raysut: Wedge-tailed Shearwater 5, Persian Shearwater 50, Brown Booby 1, Masked Booby 10, Socotra Cormorant 10, Crested Honey Buzzard 1 (juv.), Red-necked Phalarope 1, Arctic Skua 1, Bridled Tern 5. 

West Khawr: Purple Heron 1, Indian Pond Heron 1, Garganey 2, Pintail 6, Shoveler 30, Marsh Harrier 1, Temminck’s Stint 2, Greenshank 14, Wood Sandpiper 4, Black-tailed Godwit 32, Gull-billed Tern 1, Caspian Tern 1, Common Tern 1, Grey Wagtail 2.