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
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

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

Sandhamn; 7th October 2015

 Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male. A beast of a bill!

  Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male.

  Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male.

  Parrot Crosbill; Adult Male.



Treecreeper. these scandinavian birds are wonderful. Gleaming white underparts, broad white rear supercilium...

A fantastic day out on the island of Sandhamn, which will remain in my memory for a quite incredible movement of Goldcrest. I arrived on the island at 8am, after taking the ferry from Stavsnas at dawn. On arrival it seemed as though there were a lot of Goldcrest around, although it wasn't until a little later that things became overwhelming. I spent the first while around the village, though it seemed that every bush held Goldcrest and little else. I made my way south along the islands west coast, checking the tideline seaweed and undergrowth. A Great Grey Shrike was most welcome, it came in off the sea and moved in over the island quickly. a really nice sight. No doubt it was moving amongst the Goldcrests. I still had no idea just what was awaiting me until I got to the south end of the island and found every tree was dripping with Goldcrests. The noise was simply phenomenal at times. I have seen some large falls of birds in my time, but never anything on this scale. There were Goldcrests everywhere! I estimated the birds were in thousands rather than hundreds. I made my way to the southwest tip and the birds were most concentrated here. Sitting higher up on the rock I watched as the birds streamed out over the Baltic Sea from the last pines, it was a quite phenomenal sight to see migration on this scale. The mind boggles as to just how many Goldcrest might have been on the move today along this part of the coast, through the Stockholm Archipelago. I had contact with Anders Ericsson, who was not far away, on Svenska Hogarna. They experienced the same thing there today, the island was seething under masses of Goldcrest. I did what I could to check through the birds as they funnelled by me, though despite checking through many hundreds of Goldcrest I never did find a Yellow-browed Warbler, though I am convinced there must have been a few among the crests. There were simply so many, that I was swamped by their numbers. A conservative estimate considering I had 350 birds in 15 minutes departing out over the sea would be 2,000-3,000 birds. God only knows how many birds were involved in this mass movement, the mind boggles. Despite the fact it made finding anything rare incredibly difficult, witnessing migration on this scale is quite a privilege and the whole spectacle was breathtaking.
 I did manage a few other species all the same. In the southwest corner I had my best ever views of a group of Parrot Crossbill, a resident on the island. Two males and three female type fed only in front of me, allowing me to get some lovely video footage of these rather special birds. Among the Goldcrest were a few Treecreeper and Coal Tit. The former were glorious snow white scandinavian birds, wonderful birds. I managed a few photos with my new didgadatper, which was proving to be a real boon. Not having to drag the heavy camera and long lens was a real boon, especially as I covered a lot of ground today. The Coal Tits were also scandinavian birds, naturally, wonderfully smart in appearance. Later I had a Roughlegged Buzzrd winging its way south, whilst an adult male Merlin was the best bird of the day for me, it's been ages since I saw one. It tore past me on the west of the island, all to briefly, a tiny, dashing miracle. I had a wonderful view of it. Other bits included a White Wagtail, 3 Chiff chaff, a few Bramblings, Redwing, a Mistle Thrush. It was tough going trying to sift through the Goldcrest. Number decreased noticeably in the early afternoon though, as the birds filtered through the island. Migration is a magical thing. These birds may be on the Scottish Isles in a few days, then perhaps moving down the Irish coast. Many will move down through Demark and south into France and other countries where they will attempt to survive the winter, before returning to the Taiga next spring. A quite amazing day...

Video of Adult Male Parrot Crossbill Here...

Thursday, October 01, 2015

Diurnal Migration at 30 M Kärret, Norra Järvafältet, 1st October 2015

A wonderful morning at 30 M Kärret, which unfolded after I awake early and decided to get out before work for a few hours. I arrived early at the site and was a little disappointed to find quite a bit of grey cloud developing. There were a lot of Fieldfare and Chaffinch moving to the southwest throughout. among them came the odd Meadow Pipit, often going over in small groups. It wasn't long before the first of 15 or so Sparrowhawk were picked up as they migrated south. Small numbers of Redwing, Blackbird, Redpoll, Siskin, Goldfinch also went over, whilst a single Reed Bunting and a Mistle Thrush were also heard overhead. A single Common Snipe was flushed, also no Great Snipe at this, an excellent site for the species.
 After an hour or so I locked onto my main target of the outing, a superb juvenile Rough'legged Buzzard, the first of four birds moving south. A Great Grey Shrike performed well throughout the morning and Goshawk, Common Buzzard and a White Tailed Eagle livened things up over the morning. Then. just after eleven a raptor appeared among three Common Buzzard, there were a few momements of confusion due to the white inner tail and expectancy of another Rough-legged Buzzard. It didn't take long for a sense of scale to be realised and a roar went up, a superb Golden Eagle had materialised and proceeded to give stunning, prolonged views for at least 12 minutes. It really was a stunner, only my fourth ever and my first non juvenile. This was a second calendar at least and it blew me away. I hadn't brought the DSLR, though the blow was softened by the fact I managed some decent video footage of the bird being mobbed by a Raven. Olle Bernard was present and as it eventually floated over out heads he got some excellent still shots...
Below is some videos and a few distant record shots. The rest of the time was spent looking through the scope and enjoying this magnificent bird...

Golden Eagle Video Here;

Great Grey Shrike; Video Below

And a few shocking record digiscopes below...

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Advanced moult in 1st Calendar Baltic Gull; 23rd September 2015

 Bird 1. A quite remarkably advanced 1st Calendar Baltic Gull with regard to moult, certainly the most advanced I have ever seen. The majority of the mantle and scapulars have been replaced, as well as some lesser and median covert's.

Bird 1. Decided to make efforts to get some record video of this bird, which turned out quite well.

 Bird 2. Not as advanced as the the bird above, but still quite remarkable. Note the innermost greater covert is fresh.

Bird 2. View of the birds left side. A whiter headed bird than the first and very easy to pick out amongst the argentatus onsite.

Two Baltic Gulls showing a remarkable degree of moult for their age group, which is 1st Calendar. The first bird is quite remarkable. The vast majority of Baltic Gulls have left in the past week, it won't be long before these remarkable birds leave for the wintering grounds..

Argentatus Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; 23rd September 2015

 A very dark 2nd Calendar bird.

 1st Calendar

 1st Calendar

 1st Calendar

 1st Calendar

 1st Calendar

 1st Calendar, note the replaced tertial and covert's.

 2nd Calendar

 2nd Calendar

 3rd Calendar

 3rd Calendar

 Advanced 3rd Calendar or 4th Calendar?

 Long Calling 4th Calendar

 Long Calling 4th Calendar

 Long Calling 4th Calendar

 4th Calendar

 Adult type



Sub Adult

Video here of a long calling 4th Calendar Herring Gull..

House Sparrow's filmed with iPhone6 at Skeppsbron, Sweden; 23rd September 2015

It's quite remarkable the technology we carry around in our pockets these days. Here a short little videoclip of feeding House sparrows shot with my iPhone6 earlier today...

Greater Black-backed Gull; 1st Calendar; 23rd September 2015; Skeppsbron

 At rest on the wharf. A deep chested, heavy gull with a short deep bill. Legs thickset and there is a general impression of bulk and power. Quite pale around the head, which is small structurally. Well streaked neck and upper breast typical of the species in this plumage. Finer plumage details highlighted below...

 Tail pattern here, very typical of local GBBG. Note the rather reduced dark subterminal band towards the outer tail, with some clear barring on inner tail. The rump is quite clean with some diffuse coffee coloured crescents.

 Detail of the wing. Despite the bad light the inner primaries can be seen to be rather pale, with slightly darker, smoky grey outer webs. The pale inner webs continue to P8-P9, much paler than in Argentatus here.
 Detail of the tertials and covert's here. Rather typical of the species, though there is much variability here. Note the creamy white tips to the tertials with no obvious notching. Greater coverts creamy based with sparse, bold bars. 

 Scapulars showing moult, the new feathers and their pattern can be clearly seen here. The anchor shaped pattern on the new scapulars is textbook.

Here, the deep bill is very obvious. A real brute of a bird this one.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

Red Throated Pipits at Sandemar; 7th September 2015

 Always nice to see Red-backed Shrike, no matter where you are...

Arrived at Sandemar just before dawn and sat and waited for the sun to rise. My attention was initially given to a pair of Roe Deer that were feeding a couple of hundred metres away. As the sun rose they remained in the open and I was happy to get a few images and shoot some video as the light improved. Roe Deer are abundant here in Sweden, often seen in the early morning and evening. They are very nice animals to watch all the same and it was a nice way to begin the day...

 Roe deer buck at dawn..

 Roe Deer, an attendent doe...

 Very much aware of my presence...

As the sun had risen I decided to position myself in the reserves observation tower, which I had to myself. A careful scan of the shoreline revealed 9 Ruff, a single Golden Plover, Lapwing, plenty of Teal and a few Hooded Crow. White Wagtail were everywhere and I checked through these carefuly before watching the skies. Wood pigeon and Swallows were moving south, along with a single Tree Pipit. After a while I heard the unmistakable high call of a Red throated Pipit, the bird I had hoped for on the day. Early September is the time to see these birds on passage. I watched as two birds approaches. one was a Meadow Pipit and the other my target species. Both were calling constantly as they approached and to my delight, landed in a tree. Despite a range of around 100 metres, I managed some very decent record shots and had fantastic scope views of the bird. I was well chuffed at this point!
 Red Throated Pipit

 Red Throated Pipit

 Rep Throated Pipit

 Red Throated Pipit taking off

 Direct comparison between Meadow Pipit(at the top) and Red Throated Pipit(at the bottom)

I continued to scan and was scoping the wagtails at the far side of the canal when I picked up a second Red throated Pipit, As I watched it at range a third bird appeared in my scope! Onwards then to try and get closer, leaving the tower I made my way to Hoggarn and out on to the wet meadows. After a short time I located the birds on call, though they were impossible to find on the deck visually. I had some decent flight views as the birds moved around, eventually treated to nice scope views of a secong bird which also landed in a tree. The views were superb and I enjoyed them enormously.

 A different Red throated Pipit here, record shots managed of two out of three birds...

After this I spent a few hours wandering around. A Red backed Shrike juvenile was enjoyed, as was a Migrant Hawker, a dragonfly species. Common species included Yellowhammer, ChiffChaff, Chaffinch. Skylark, Common Buzzard. Try as i might, I just couldn't dig out a Bluethroat. Never mind, a great morning, thoroughly enjoyed..

 Yellowhammer, a young male bird...

Yellowhammer, an adult male checking me out.

Video of this morning here...