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 Åsberg. 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







Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Recent Sketches; September 2018

 Wood Sandpiper; Fieldsketches

 Reed Bunting; Fieldsketch and notes

 Wood Sandpiper; Pencil Drawing from field work

 Northern Wheatear; Fieldsketches

 Magnolia Warbler; Pencil drawing

 White Wagtail; Fieldsketch

 Bluethroat; Pencil drawing from fieldwork

Bluethroat; Fieldsketches and notes of juvenile male.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Visible Migration at Landsort; 8th-9th September 2018

 A Sparrowhawk on the hunt for tired passerines, one of many of these wonderful accipters seen over the two days spent on the island..

Landsort is without a doubt my favourite birding location in Sweden. There are venues with greater numbers of migrants, such as Falsterbo or Öland. I greatly enjoy all kinds of birds and birding, though I must admit, that the thrill of both spring and autumn birding is what I really enjoy. In particular, it is the spectacle of migration that really appeals most to me and there is nothing better than watching streams of birds actively migrating. Landsort offers a diverse array of species on good numbers, on occasion the numbers can be staggering. Best of all, you may well have the island all to yourself, or as is generally the case, be one of a small number of birder's present to enjoy the spectacle. I decided to visit for the weekend on this occasion on the strength of a reasonable weather forecast with light southeasterly winds, which always puts you in with a good chance of a decent bird or two amongst the more regular species.


 Landsort Fyren; The lighthouse that looms over Sodra Udden is generally my favourite location to watch migration from, on this visit I was here on both morning logging migrating birds as they passed south.

I arrived on the Friday evening ferry in order to be able to be at Sodra Udden before the sun came over the horizon. Migration starts at first light and often the best passerine movements occur in the first few hours of daylight. I booked accomadation at Landsort Fågelstation, a modest, but very comfortable bird observatory which has recently been refurbished. It is ideally located on the island for both the ringers to work the mist nets in Bredmar, the area around the building, but also for those interested in viewing migration from either the north or south of the island.
 Pre dawn found me at the lighthouse at the southern tip of the island. As the sun rose the first flocks of White Wagtails passed directly overhead. Passage of these familiar birds was quite heavy and I settled in to start counting the birds as the first Tree Pipits began to pass southwards overhead. At sea, the first Common Scoter, Eider and waders began to pass, a small group of Red Knot being an early highlight. Small groups of Dunling were then picked up before a Greater Scaup passed among a flock of Scoter, a decent bird here, though regular in September. The first flocks of mixed dabbling duck then streamed by, mixed flocks of Pintail and Wigeon. The early part of the morning was dominated by flocks of White Wagtails moving south, calling constantly as they went. Listening carefully is the order of the day, in order to locate birds moving south, as well as to pick out any more unusual species that may pass over. Landsort is an quite wonderful place to familiarize yourself with the calls of migrating passerines, with a huge range of species occuring here over the average autumn. On this particular morning however, diversity was quite low and the wagtails dominated the scene. A few Chaffinch, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit and Goldcrest were the exception on this morning, though passage at sea was a different story.
  As the sun rose over the horizon and the clock crept past 09.00am, the passerines overhead dried up and the passage over the sea began to pick up. As the morning went on the flocks of duck moving around the southern tip of Sodra Udden became increasingly more frequent and soon it became apparent that three species were moving in exceptional numbers, Eurasian Wigeon, Northern Pintail and Common Scoter. Time after time, scanning with the binoculars revealed flocks of birds moving steadily south, many of which were mixed, carrying other species amongst them. Streams of Cormorant were also moving through over the sea throughout. A real highlight was a Garganey, quite unexpected and a good island record on passage. The bird was among a flock of Eurasian Wigeon, happily, one of the closer flocks that passed during the morning. A Grey Plover, a small flock of Golden Plover and a few Shoveler were also noted as the flocks streamed by. In the end it was a remarkable morning, culminating in a amazing sight as a huge flock of Eurasian Wigeon flew past, a huge group of 820 birds. Northern Pintail were also present in exceptional numbers, a thousand birds would be logged on a remarkable morning of passage.
 Just before I left the lighthouse, there was one more little twist. A familiar call came from the bushes below, the unmistakable call of a Yellow browed Warbler. This little warbler is the epitomy of autumn migration and was my earliest ever. It gave brief views before moving to the large lighouse garden where I lost it. A very welcome end to the morning indeed.
 I returned to the observatory a happy man. Ringing have been modest, with few migrants around there, though I still decided to have a look around after a bite to eat. The returns were modest, a few Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Goldcrest were picked up. I spent a quite evening logging a few more duck moving south in a bunker to the back of the observatory, with a few Golden Plover and Bar tailed Godbit proved the highlight. After a long day, it was time for a hot meal and then off to bed early in anticipation of the flowwing morning..

Bird totals for 8th September;
172 Cormorant, 846 White Wagtail, 9 Tree Pipit, 16 Chaffinch, 4 Meadow Pipit, 10 Sparrowhawk, 4 Siskin, 1 Yellow browed Warbler, 3 Linnet, 5 Willow Warbler, 12 Goldcrest, 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 1 Northern Wheatear, 34 Velvet Scoter, 8 Red Knot, 3 Tufted Duck, 32 Eider, 1 Garganey, 22 Red breasted Merganser, 97 Dunlin, 1 Arctic Skua, 1 Oystercatcher, 1,873 Wigeon, 55 Teal, 7 Golden Plover, 11 Arctic Tern, 1,437Common Scoter, 999 Pintail, 1 Black throated Diver, 6 Shoveler, 1 Bar tailed Godwit, 1 Grey Plover.


 Just before dawn approaching Sodra Udden at this magical birding location...

Sunday morning saw me up at the same time and return to Sodra Udden, though this time in the company of Mika Åsberg and Mattias, the extra eyes most welcome. I helps greatly to have a small group to scan for birds, as often there is a lot of birds streaming overhead and at sea. Again the sun rose on a lovely clear moring and the first flocks of White Wagtails started to stream past in front of us. Tree Pipits were more in evidence and passerine passage was heavier than the previous day. A Yellow Wagtail went over, then Sikin and Chaffinch. The sea was quiet at first, though an early group of Common Scoter and Eider went past as we settled down. It soon became apparent that there was a heavier passage of passerines overhead than the previous morning. Landsort is rather unpredictable in some ways and no two days are the same with regard to the passage of birds. It seemed a small change in the wind direction had led to a heavier pasage of passerines, whilst the sea would remain fairly quite throughout. Overhead, the birds streamed over and we settled in to see what would be amongst them.
 White Wagtails made up the bulk of the passage once again, though the passage was heavier than the previous morning. As flock after flock passed in front of us to the west of the light house, other calls alerted us to the presence of other species. There were more Tree Pipit here for sure, whilst Song Thrush was picked up early on calling. A huge juvenile Goshawk drifted past early on, eyeballing us as she passed, a real highlight. A Wood Sandpiper flew over high up, calling as it went. As the morning went on, we finally struck gold. Among the Wagtails there was a rasping call and we both clocked it second time around. A Richard's Pipit! The bird was seen as it flew past, calling several times. A really good species to pick up and we were both very happy. A few minutes later, the familiar hiss of a Red throated Pipit was the icing on the cake, a decent passage species on the island and my first of the autumn as it happened. Then came a wonderful flock of Common Crossbill, which spent some time flying around the lighouse before decided not to migrate out over the sea, instead they moved northwards back up the island. We called it a day around noon as passage over the sea did not materialize and grabbed a bite to eat. I was leaving on the afternoon ferry and just had time to check the bushes around the observatory where I was treated to lovely views of a juvenile Hobby before packing up and heading for the ferry. A wonderful weekend birding at an incredible venue.


 A juvenile Hobby which was present on the second day of the visit, one of many regular migrant species seen in good numbers on this baltic island.

Bird totals for 9th September
85 Cormorant, 332 Common Scoter, 23 Red breasted Merganser, 207 Wigeon, 60 Pintail, 31 Teal, 5 Sandwich Tern(all juvenile), 175 Common Eider, 4 Greater Scaup, 37 Velvet Scoter, 2 Black throated Diver, 1 Whimbrel, 32 Oystercatcher, 1,295 White Wagtail, 2 Sparrowhawk, 2 Song Thrush, 29 Tree Pipit, 1 Goshawk, 1 Wood Sandpiper, 8 Meadow Pipit, 7 Siskin, 2 Yellow Wagtail, 2 Grey Heron, 3 White tailed Eagle, 1 RICHARD'S PIPIT, 1 Red throated Pipit, 11 Common Crossbill.


 Waders were still in evidence, though often distantly and a decent scope helped with identifikation. Here a small group of Golden Plovers carries two Bar tailed Godwit in their midst.


Awiting sunrise on day two, always a time of excitement, as one wonders what the coming dawn will bring in the way of birds. On occasion, the visible migration here can be staggering, as thousands of birds stream south alond the coast.


Monday, September 10, 2018

Birding at Ågesta Reserve; Early September




Latest video footage from Ågesta Reserve has now been edited and uploaded. A very nice early autumn morning at the reserve with three classic autumn species...

Recent Fieldsketches; September 2018

 Bluethroat; Black ballpoint biro, Ågesta


 Redshank; Black ballpoint biro; Sandemar Reserve


 Yellow Wagtail; HB Pencil; Ågesta Reserve


 Tree Pipit; HB Pencil; Landsort


Red backed Shrike; HB Pencil; Ågesta Reserve

A few recent pieces of fieldwork from the sketchpad, which I have been making efforts to get back into the habit of using. Generally, leaving the DSLR behind and just bringing a digiscoping camera, which is less bulky, means that I spend more time looking at the birds I see in the field. Hopefully, a lot more of this to come this autumn as I have enjoyed drawing again very much.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Ågesta; 26th August 2018

 Ågesta


 Whinchat; Juvenle


 Tree Sparrow


 Red backed Shrike were feeding around Mysvik and giving superb views as they did so. The light was good and I decided to make an effort to digiscope the five juveniles present.
















A cracking morning spent at Ågesta Nature Reserve. On arrival I spent some time at Mysvik and almost immediately my main target species was in the bag as I found a Bluethroat foraging around the area. It quickly became apparent it was not alone, with at least three birds present. As usual, they were difficult to photograph and I had to be content with excellent views. It had a real feel of autumn this morning, with Yellow Wagtails in the fields and Tree Pipits on the move. Red back Shrikes were very much in evidence, along with some pristine juvenile Whichat. I enjoyed all these at my leisure. Another treat at the lake came in the form of a perched Hobby, which was making sallies out over the lake after Dragonflies. I watched the bird for some time before moving along. A Marsh Harrier was the best at the pumphouse, though a lot of Swallow were moving south overhead. Autumn is now very much in the air....




Sunday, August 12, 2018

Caspian Gull; Skeppsbron; Stockholm; 12th August 2018




























Images here of a stunning juvenile Caspian Gull from Skeppsbron today, a cracking find by Dirk Van Gainsberg. He rang me as soon as he was sure of the identification and I was able to get there quickly and gain 40 minutes with th bird, which showed very well, as is typical at this site.