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

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Recent Sketches; October 2018


 Isabelline Wheatear; Pencil Drawing


 Northern Parula; Pencil Drawing

 Brambling; Fieldsketches

 Goldcrest; Fieldsketches

 Goldcrests; Fieldsketches

 Merlin; Fieldsketch; Sandhamn

Black Redstart; Fieldsketch; Sandhamn

Landsort; 22nd-23rd September 2018

Honey Buzzard; A juvenile passes close overhead at the lighthouse. A typical dark type bird. Remarkable numbers of juvenile birds have been noted on passage at later dates than is expected this year.


A return to Landsort for another weekend visit in order to enjoy the outstanding spectacle of autumn migration. A little bit later than the last visit, which affects the make up of the species involved, I was curious as to what the weekend would bring in the way of birds. The weather proved far from ideal upon arrival, with near storm force southwesterlies. The ferry was forced to dock in Norrhamn on Friday evening, as a result and I was  a little later than expected arriving at the observatory. It was nice to have a warm cup of tea and catch up with Chris and Kay at the observatory, before heading off to bed early.
 The next morning, as I knew it would be, itwas extremely windy.  A strong WSW wind howled across the island. I expected little in the conditions, but still got to the lighthouse for dawn. It was tough going to be honest. A large group of 600 Common Eider were offshore as the sun rose over the Baltic Sea to the east. I settled in to see what would happen.
 A few birds were passing, despite the weather. It was remarkable to see small flocks of Eurasian Wigeon powering into the wind over the sea, pulled by the urge to migrate. A Red necked Grebe was an unexpeceted early highlight, as were 3 Greater Scaup. As I feared, there were no passerines moving at all, and the migration was made up mainly of duck, with the odd wader thrown in for good measure. From 06.00am-11.00am the following were noted;
376 Common Eider, 1,176 Common Scoter, 1 Oystercatcher, 1 Dunlin, 151 Eurasian Wigeon, 286 Cormorant, 3 Mallard, 1 Goldeneye, 3 Northern Pintail, 12 Velvet Scoter, 3 Greter Scaup, 2 Common Guillemot, 1 Razorbill, 11 Teal, 6 Red breasted Merganser, 1 Grey Plover, 26 Grey Plover, 2 Honey Buzzard, 2 Kestrel, 1 Red necked Grebe.

A return to the birdstation for lunch allowed me to recharge the batteries and the rest of the day was before me. I decided to take a walk around the island to look for landbirds, but this was largely a waste of time, there were few migrants on the island. An Osprey was a nice sight, along with a couple of juvenile Honey Buzzard. My first Stock doves of the autumn passed over southwards also. In the woods, small numbers of Goldcrest were present, a couple of Chiffchaff the best amongst them. I decided to head back and figured that the sea was my best chance of a decent bird and I settled on Vadarbunkern. I was almost completely dead over the sea! Between 15.30 and 18.00 I recorded  2 Goldeneye, 1 Guillemot, 4 Red breasted Merganser, 3 Dunlin and a single Arctic Tern! There was a silver lining in the form of one species though. Late in the evening the wind died considerably and almost straight away, passage of White Wagtail began out over the surface of the sea. Time and time again, I picked up small flocks of these birds flying into a strong headwing, low over the waves. In the end I recorded 219 White Wagtail in the last hour of light. The weather was easing and after the passage of wagtails I was confident the next day would see some passerines moving. Often, after bad weather has forced migration birds to halt for a day or more, the first day of reasonable weather can see a push of migrants, keen to get on with moving southwards. We sat in the observatory that evening and discussed our chances hopefully....


A Honey Buzzard passes the southern tip pf the island over the Baltic Sea. A wonderful spectacle, observing autumn migration from the southern tip of Landsort at this time of the year.

Another shot, the same juvenile bird as above...



On the morning of Sunday 22nd Septemper, I arose early, ate breakfast, packed some food and made my way to the lighthouse at Sodra Udden with Mika ├ůsberg. We were hopeful of a migratory push after the harsh weather of the previous days and we were both quietly optimistic of some passerine passage. The wind had dropped considerably, just 12km/hour  from WSW. A little cloud cover, but no precipitation. As light began to creep into the surroundings the first calls came from the skies, Tree Pipit and Brambling. As soon as there was decent daylight we were aware that a lot of birds were moving. Mika had offered to write all the sightings down, but it wasn't long before we had to revise this arrangement. After just 15 minutes we looked north to see flocks of migrating passerines streaming south in big numbers, birds began piling past in flocks, calling as they went. It was a remarkable sight as flocks of Siskin bombed past us at head height. Soon, the numbers of Chaffinch/Brambling increased markedly and we were soon swamped by birds. Tree Pipit were most unexpected and were passing in highnnumbers, late September not normally being a date for large numbers of this species. It was frenetic at times, but at all times a quite fantastic spectacle as a really heavy passage of birds swelled overhead and sustained itself for the first three hours of the morning. A Great Grey Shrike was a real highlight, a cracking juvenile bird, which perched briefly in front of us. It was quickly apparent that the number of Chaffinch/Brambling moving was in the thousands. Siskin were also prevelant, often in flocks of 50 or 60 birds. A little later there were good numbers of passage Honey Buzzard, Osprey, a cracking juvenile Merlin. All the while there were Sparrowhawk moving through, shadowing the passerines. Swallows moved along the coast and out over the sea, whilst the odd Dunnock or Reed Bunting was picked out from the mass of migrants. From among the Tree and Meadow Pipit came a single call, a Rock Pipit. Stock Dove were noted also, over twenty birds moving southwards. A Yellow Wagtail was a late bird, a Northern Wheatear went high overhead. Perhaps the most bizarre sight were two Nuthatch flying excitedly around the lighthouse calling furiously as they moved through. We stayed in place until after midday, enjoying a quite breathtaking spectacle. On this day there was no great rarity, but the sheer volume of migrating birds more than made up for it. Passage came to a halt and the afternoon proved quiet, with seemingly few grounded emigrants. A Rough legged Buzzard gave stunning views though, flapping slowly by. An island rarity came in the form of a Gadwall among a flock of Cormorant over the centre of the island. Later we added the totals up of a remarkable day;
1 Brent Goose, 65 Eider, 3 Common scoter, 7 Velvet Scoter,  2 Mallard, 2,157 Cormorant, 2 Grey Plover, 12 Teal, 102 Eurasian Wigeon, 18 Northern Pintail, 11 Goosander, 5 Red breasted Merganser, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Baltic Gull, 1 Merlin, 6 Woodpigeon, 13 Honey Buzzard, 1 Great Grey Shrike, 199 White Wagtail, 4 White tailed Eagle, 2 Marsh Harrier, 5 Common buzzard, 40 Sparrowhawk, 1 Rough legged Buzzard, 3 sprey, 10 Kestrel, 2 Hobby, 1 Gadwall, 22 Stock Dove, 3 Skylark, 161 Barn Swallow, 212 Tree Pipit, 672 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit, 1 Yellow Wagtail, 369 White Wagtail, 7 Dunnock, 1 Wheatear, 1 Song Thrush, 2 Chiffchaff, 7 Blue Tit, 2 Nuthatch, 9,138 Chaffinch/Brambling, 3 Greenwich, 2,123 Siskin, 5 Common Redpoll, 16 Reed Bunting.


A stunning juvenile Hobby accelearates past our position at the lighthouse....



A juvenile Osprey passing right over our heads, eyeballing us as it does so. This birds plumage is in pristine condition...







Sparrowhawk

Sparrowhawk