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

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Utö; 24th October 2016

 Mealy Redpolls; Plenty of these small finches around the island today...



 Redwing; Small numbers of these cracking thrushes were feeding on the deck today, though many more went overhead calling during the day...



Common blackbird. Astonishing numbers present on the island today, the majority of them were 1st calender birds like this male...

There has been a quite amazing influx of Siberian Accentors happening these past few weeks, with now upwards of 140 of these eastern vagrants now recorded around Europe, with Sweden taking the lions share, with 54 records to date as I write. Until the past few days, many of these have been quite distant from Stockholm, or on far flung islands on the archipelago. This, however, changed on the 22nd October, when two individuals were found on the more accessible islands of Landsort and Utö respectively. The 23rd of October saw me arrive on the island of Landsort in the hope of connection with the bird seen there the previous day. The bird, however, was not seen on the day. Given the appalling weather, it seemed a little unlikely that the bird had moved on. It had very possibly succumbed overnight, as reports told of a very tired bird, feeding at observers feet up until dusk. In any case, I had to make do with a Ring Ouzel at the south end of the island and a nice flock of migrating Dark bellied Brent Geese in off the sea as highlights. There were masses of Robins on the island, a huge fall of birds, which were everywhere. I also logged many Wren, Chaffinch and Brambling there before the ferry departed, carrying around 30 deflated birder's back to the mainland.
 As the second individual was reported present on the 23rd, I decided to head out to the island of Utö on Monday 24th October in the hope of connecting, again I was thwarted. The bird was present on a military area to the south end of the island. On this particular day, the sound of gunfire and mortar rounds told me there would be no access. A quick chat with a friendly member of military personel confirmed this. Live rounds were being used and I reflected that even a Siberian Accentor is not worth being shot for. I decided to cut my losses and try and find something good whilst I was on the island. There were an astonishing amount of Blackbirds present. They were everywhere it seemed, and though my notes totalled 500 individuals, the reality was that I covered only a small section of this large island and there must of been many thousands of birds present. Most were 1st Calender birds and they were the main feature of the day, along with another species, Robin. Like the previous day on Landsort, they were everywhere, no doubt deposited on the easterly winds and light rain overnight. Again, my notes contained 350 birds, a mere percentage of those present. The fact that so many common migrants were present led to the feeling there might well be something rare around, even at this late date. I was feeling good, and migrants were picked up throughout the day. Small groups of Skylark were flushed, along with Meadow Pipits. Overhead, Redwing, Song Thrush and Fieldfares were moving, filling the skies with their calls. A Chiffchaff worked its way along the bushes by the roadside, the first of four individuals. The second one appeared in some low cover by the woods, a striking pale bird, with a diffuse super over the eye and bright green fringes to the remiges and tail. This looked every bit like a 'tristis' type, though it was mobile and I lost it within three minutes as if moved through the woods. It remained silent and therefore I could not be sure...
 Goldcrests were picked up here and there as I walked along the road to Gruvbyn. On arrival at the village there were Blackbirds everywhere, along with many Redwing. I had a few hours left before the ferry and the area around the harbour was scoured in that time. There is excellent habitat here and I was hopeful of something good. In the end, the best was a Great Grey Shrike and a flock of 12 Twite. Further excitement was provided by two skulking Dunnock which were kicked out of the weeds, all the while I dreamt of flushing one of their rarer eastern cousins. In the end, the day was highly enjoyable, nothwithstanding the disappointment of not being able to access the site I wanted to. I told myself I may yet get another bite at this particular cherry. Time will tell...