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, April 10, 2014

Great White Egrets; Ågesta; 10th April 2014


Jack Snipe

News that 2 Great White Egret were present at Ågesta saw me change venue from sandemar and backtrack to get to the reserve. on arrival it took some time to locate the birds, which were roosting in the reeds at the far north of the lake around a kilometre away. Scope views were sufficiently good even at this range and I was grateful of this swedish tick. Other birds included an Osprey over the lake and a good flock of Teal. I decided to check Pumphusangen carefully and after picking out several Green Sandpipers and quite a few Common Snipe my scope finally rested on a real prize, a Jack Snipe on the ground. The bird was close enough to allow me to get a decent didgiscoped image, which I was very happy to get, this being such an elusive species. The views through the scope were nothing short of stunning and I was able to show the bird to a couple of visiting birders who were delighted, it was a lifer for them. I sketched the bird for a while before moving back to the main lake, just in time to see the egrets dropping into the reedbeds at the southwest corner of the lake. Here i had excellent views through the scope, though the birds were in redd cover and it proved almost impossible to get a decent shot.

Teal
Great White Egret
Lapwing

Hjälstaviken; 4th April 2014

Eurasian White fronted Geese

A day at the reserve with John costello. arrived to the north to singing Skylark, before we immediately picked up a superb Rough legged Buzzard. Geese were everywhere at Lingbokullen too and there were a lot of eurasian White Fronted Geese present among the Taiga Bean Geese and Greylag Geese. The minimum count came to 185 birds by the end of the day, a very high total. From the tower we had 7 pairs of Pintail, a Curlew, Snipe and 15 Common Crane among the more regular species. Gadwall, Shoveler and White Tailed Eagle followed before we headed to Spangen. Here the highlight were 4 Bearded Tit and a superb male Marsh Harrier, all welcome additions to the yearlist. A superb day all round in glorious conditions. The images here were digiscoped through the Swarovski ATX 95 scope with a Nikon D90 camera body at some range...
Rough Legged Buzzard

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Caspian Plover; 1st Swedish Record; Sandasjön, Norra Mörkö; 26th March 2014
















News came yesterday whilst I was at work that a Caspian Plover had been found on Norra Mörkö. The bird was a male and I couldn't get there on the first day, cue an agonising wait overnight before setting out the next morning. The weather was bad at first light and I decided to take a chance and leave after visiting my local camera shop where I picked up a TLS APO adaptor for my scope, which would allow me to attach my nikon D90 body to the scope in order to digiscope. The bird was reported as distant most of the time and I wanted to get some reasonable record shots of the bird. News had reached me that the bird was still present as I travelled and on arrival a 20 minute dash resulted in the bird feeding in a flooded field about 80 metres away. It was everything I expected, a glorious bird and the scope  views were crippling. I just watched it for a while before eventually spendeing a little time grabbing some digiscoped shots. The I sat and sketched the bird and took in all the details, spending four and a half hours enjoying what is one of the most sought after rarities in the world, with good reason. The light improved in the afternoon and the bright rufous breast band seemed to gleam. This was a really unforgetable, tidy bird. A mythical bird really and I really never did expect to ever see one. As lifers go, this was one of the very best for me. The bird showed very well indeed all day and after getting my head around the adaptor and camera settings I got some lovely shots though my scope. What a bird...

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Målarklippan; Diurnal Migration; 11th March 2014


A morning spent observing diurnal migration proved to be a great early spring experience on a fine day with light westerly winds. From just after dawn migration was strong and Niklas Westernark, Per Äsberg and myself were busy scanning the skies. During the day there were many highlights, with Geese, Swans, Skylarks and Pigeons the main species involved along with corvids. The highlight was a flock of 28 Eurasian White Fronted Geese, 3 Rook, a Woodlark and a Teal. I missed an Arctic Redpoll flying by with the local Redpoll flock, though had seen the bird on a previous visit. The view at this site is quite stunning with a huge vista to the west over Lake Malaren and south over the northern Stockholm suburbs, allowing excellent viewing of migrating birds. Woodpigeon, Crane, Geese and Swans featured heavily today, a wonderful experience that resulted in a superb haul of early migrants. The following were noted migrating;
1 Teal, 46 Crane, 46 Whooper Swan, 30 Eurasian White Fronted Goose, 67 Bean Goose, 48 Greylag Goose, 35 Anser Sp., 47 Cormorant, 92 Goosander, 3 Goldeneye, 1 Tufted Duck, 36 Common Buzzard, 1 Sparrowhawk, 25 Starling, 613 Woodpigeon, 21 Stock Dove, 136 Skylark, 1 Woodlark, 59 Lapwing, 34 Chaffinch, 5 Mistle Thrush, 3 Rook, 176 Hooded Crow, 276 Jackdaw.
A supporting cast of species included Arctic Redpoll, Parrot Crossbill, Crested Tit, Black Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, White Tailed Eagles, Rough Legged Buzzard, Hawfinch and a host of other species. A good days birding by any standards...





Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mälarklippan; Visible Migration; 19th Febuary 2014

A day out to see if any late winter migration might be taking place was a real eye opener. I joined Raul Vicente, Par Åsberg, Niklas Westermark and Leo Rudberg at Malarklippen, a new venue for me. The site is located north of Stockholm and is located on a high, rocky outcrop. There is a breathtaking , extensive view to the west, which takes in Lake Malaren and surrounding forest, whilst to the south and southeast Stockholm can be seen. It is quiet, very promising and is ideal for spring migration.
 The date was 19th Febuary, which normally would mean little migration, though this year the winter has been incredibly mild here. Almost immediately we had Skylark flying north, then a Mistle Thrush! Jackdaws were the main species moving north, we settled in for the day and started to count.

The following were recorded migrating north, quite remarkable considering the date;
 683 Jackdaw, 21 Skylark, 3 Mistle Thrush, 1 Lapwing, 11 Common Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, 1 Waxwing, 20 Stock Dove, 8 Mute Swan, 1 Greylag Goose, I Bean Goose, 1 Grey Heron.

The following were noted in habitat on site;
 1 Black Woodpecker, 1 Green Woodpecker, 1 Wren, 7 White Tailed Eagle, 173 Tufted Duck, 1 pair Smew, 4 Hawfinch, 65 Common Redpoll, 7 Stock Dove, 6 Goldfinch.

All in all, a quietly remarkable day in mid Febuary. Hoppfully The early birds continue to appear to break the winter monotony. A day much enjoyed by all present. I was very impressed by this sites potential and Ill be back for more here this spring..



Monday, February 17, 2014

Little Gulls; Bull Island; Dublin; 12th Febuary 2014



A quite amazing days birding,which began early in appalling conditions as the island was lashed by southeasterly gales and driving rain. After visiting Howth looking for northern gulls we arrived at Sutton and parked across from the north tip of the island. Tommy Cooney was driving and within moments we quickly realized there was an exceptional number of Kittiwakes present, they were everywhere. A short while later I remarked that Little Gull must be likely, just as Tom picked up an adult over the surf. More followed and we watched them from the land rover before heading north. More Kittiwakes and Little Gull were noted in south lagoon, indeed by the time we got to the causeway we were seeing storm driven Kittiwake almost landing on the road! Along the road at south lagging we were treated to incredible views of more adult Little Gull as they fed along the roadside. We crossed the wooden bridge on foot as it was closed to traffic, getting soaked by waves. A flock of 6 Little Gulls rested on the sea, lifting up as we passed. On to the Bull Wall where more Little Gulls were added, along with other storm driven species. Auks, Kittiwakes and other gulls were everywhere. By the end of it all we had a minimum count of 26 Little Gull, a site record and certainly there were more involved. Indeed there were 35 along the beach the following day, whilst the 14th saw a remarkable 47 Little Gull recorded by Tom, remarkable birds in quite remarkable weather conditions..




Purple Sandpipers; Bull Island; 12th Febuary 2014



An irregular visitor to Bull Island and a much sought patch bird. Tom Cooney and I were delighted to get this brace in stormy conditions, initially they ran across the path right beside us on the Bull Wall before posing for a few photos!brilliant birds and a welcome addition to the island year list ...


Sanderling; Bull Island; 12th Febuary 2014








Dunlin; Bull Island; 12th February 2014

Great Northern Diver, Howth; Dublin; 9th Febuary 2014