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, March 26, 2009

Pygmy Owl; Norra Järvafältet; 26th March 2009

A classic glaring pose...

Calling constantly at just 17 metres range...





The second, more distant view, albeit in better light than the later close range views...


News that a Pygmy Owl had been heard calling yesterday evening saw me make the trip to Faboda Gård in Norra Järvafältet in the hope of connecting with the bird, which has been present at this site for a number of years in late March and into April. Arrived at 2.30pm. and began to search for the bird without ant sign of it until it suddenly started to call at 3.35pm. This year really has been good to me so far and my run of good birds was about to continue. I was thrilled to get a view from around 50 metres way as the bird sat atop a large spruce calling, before dissapearing into the woods in silence. A hour later the bird was lured back by imitations of its call and really put on a great show, finally sitting just 17 metres away whilst giving its characteristic call. Fading light meant the shots would be a little lacking in colour, but I was nevertheless delighted to get what are by far my best shots of this brilliant species to date...

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sandhamn; 20th March 2009

White Tailed Eagle, a sub adult bird...

Female Black Woodpecker

Crested Tit, about 5 pairs found today on the island.

Male Goosander in flight.

Great Tit, the commonest bird on the island by a very long way...



A full day spent on Sandhamn, an island in the Stockholm Archipelago, caught the ferry in the early hours of the morning. On arrival a check around the village showed lots of Great Tits, Blue Tits and Greenfinches and little else apart from the odd Blackbird, a couple of early Chaffinches and a few Hooded Crow and Magpie loitering in the trees.
Into the interior of the island then, where winter birding as usual is hard, with birds few and far between. First hit was contact with the resident pair of Black Woodpeckers, these birds led me all over the place during the day as we continually crossed paths and I tried to get a decent snap, it would be late in the day before the female obliged the camera from 40 metres! The southern tip of the island produced the first distant White Tailed Eagles of the day. These birds are a big feature of winter birding on the island and I hoped to get a record shot.
Working up the west of the island I then stumbled into the highlight of the day. A bird was seen on the beach, then flying to a pine bough. I wondered about an early Black Redstart, then my first impression led me to think just another Greenfinch. This 'Greenfinch then turn its head and I realized it was a female Parrot Crossbill. It was then joined by a male who proceeded to feed the female before they mated. Another male was then located on the beach eating grit, which these birds ingest as an aid to digesting pine seeds, their staple food. I went for the camera at this stage, and the birds flew off into the woods, when I realized there where in fact four birds in total!
Onwards to the north and centre of the island where the resident Crested Tits where in evidence, five singing males where located easily and some photos of these busy birds had. The rest of the day was spent looking to the sea where commoner species of seaduck were seen, Goldeneye, Goosander, Eider and a single Coot. The Ferry home produced a bonus too, a sub adult White Tailed Eagle swept in behind the boat and I just managed to scramble to the top deck in time to get a record shot. All in all a very nice day with some very good birds....

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Stockholm Ström, 19th March 2009

Male Goshawk, delighted to see this superb bird hunting the Black Headed Gulls over the water!

Coot

Black Headed Gull

Preening Mute Swan

Swan pair

Mallard Drake

Tufted Duck Drake


Popped down to the Ström purely to grab a few shots and try for my first flight shots of birds with the camera, had planned on maybe getting some gull images. My luck was in however. Spent a while taking photos of the local Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks, Coots, Mallards and Gulls before a male Goshawk appeared from nowhere and attacked the Blackheaded Gulls. It chased one of these birds for a minute of so before it gave up, the bird lucky to evade death. Minutes later the bird reappered suddenly and finally took its price over the main bridge, an amazing sight right in the centre of the city and one that made my day....

Norra Järvafältet; 19th March 2009

Yellowhammer

Treecreeper, shot at 500mm handheld...

A fine day with excellent light saw me back at Norra Järvafältet, was really nice to finally use the camera in good light. First stop was the feeding station at Ravalen, where I had a brief glimpse of the first winter Arctic Redpoll, alas it choe to remain obscured and I did not get a photo before it left with the Mealy Redpoll flock it was amongst. 16 Bullfinch, Marsh Tit and Yellowhammers were all noted before I moved on. Next up were 3 Hawfinch beside the lake, high up in the trees calling.
At Väsby Skylarks were noted migrating overhead, then another new arrival in the form of a pair of Mistle Thrushes were a welcome sight. Long Tailed Tits were seen briefly a couple of times before I approached 30 M Kärret where the bird of the day blasted past me, a superb female Merlin, newly returned. 3 Common Buzzard were also seen here, along with 14 Waxwing before I got the train back to Stockholm...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Arctic Redpoll;1st Winter; Ravalen; 16th March 2009

Only in comparison with Mealy Redpoll are the genaral differences noticable, the faint pink flush on the breast just discernable in this photo. The frosty pallid appearance, clean flanks with reduced streaking and clean undertail are all features that scream Arctic Redpoll....

Probably the best shot of the bird, the small bill size is shown well in this shot......

Note the clean white wingbar, the small bill, white flanks with reduced streaking and clean undertail..

Showing reduced streaking on the clean, white based flanks...

Note frosty appearace on the back, especially the mantle, some sulphur tints on the scapulars also apparent., These photos also show the marked longest uppertail coverts, above which the rump was clean white with no streaking visible..

A view of the undertail coverts, almost spotless apart from a single dark shaft on the longest undertail covert...


With Mealy Redpoll feeding at the station I was hopeful of a rarity in their midst, though when it came it proved a difficult bird to identify and it was only after three hours scrutiny that I was satisfied I had a first winter Arctic Redpoll in front of me for the second time in a week. I have underlined the birds features in caption beneath the photos. Did not get a shot of the rump, the bird not showing it to the camera, it was however gleaming white and unmarked. Delighted with this bird, a real challenge to identify, getting some good, useful reference shots of the bird too, again the light was poor with regard to photography. May return to this site here in the coming week should the sun shine. Perhaps a hat-trick maight be on the cards...


Ravalen Feeding Station; 16th March 2009

Mealy Redpoll; a really, really gorgeous male this one...

Male Bullfinch

Female Bullfinch

Apples attracted this female Blackbird

Yellowhammer, Female or First Winter...

Nuthatch on the seed feeder..


A trip to Norra Järvafältet today in front of St. Patricks Day to look for Arctic Redpoll proved useful. Some photos of some of the species at the feeding station today, which was alive with birds. In addition to these a Goshawk was also seen, as well as Marsh tit and Hawfinch....


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Dippers; Nyfors; 11th March 2009

One of the days best shots....

At rest midstream....

A very confiding bird....


Another close up...

Returning to the same areas repeatedly...



Having been at Nyfors a couple of weeks ago I knew that the 4 Dippers present were approachable and had promised myself to return with the camere to get some better shots of these birds. Popped out in the afternoon and the birds were still in the area, feeding actively in the rapids at the falls. Despite overcast, dark conditions some nice photos were captured, with one bird in particular being a real superstar and allowing me to approach to within a couple of metres. I found myself zooming out on several occasions just to get the bird into the frame!
More photos and a videograb of one of these birds are posted on my Flickr site at the link below. Have just set this up and hope to build up a portfolio of bird photos on the site over the coming months....

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Arctic Redpoll; Angarn; 8th March 2009









Staked out the feeding station for a few hours hoping that the Redpoll flock might hold a gem and was thrilled when this cracking male Arctic Redpoll put in a brief appearance. A really clean bird, no problems with identification and it obliged the camera to boot!
Really clean white flanks and hint of a pink flush on the breast suggest perhaps a sub adult male bird. The bird sported a lovely clean white wingbar, a striking feature. Though not visile in the photos the rump and undertail were clean white without any trace of streaking. The bird was rather large in comparison to most of its Mealy brethern and a shade frostier in appearance. Really nice to see a male, often the first winter birds are so much more difficult to identify due to confusion with Mealy Redpolls which can often appear pale, with reduced streaking on the flanks and rump. I do like a challenge with regard to bird identification, but sometimes it is a pleasure to just sit back and observe a classic adult male bird! Yet another highlight of a cracking winter here in Stockholm....

Mealy Redpolls; Angarn; 8th March 2009

















About 30 Mealy Redpoll at the feeding station today and they proved to be rather cooperative too, posing for the camera at close range. Had a great day watching, photographing and taking notes on these birds, which are inredibly variable with regard to plumage, a real minefield! Some of the better shots taken posted here....





Lesser Redpolls; Angarn; March 2009

1st Winter Lesser Redpoll(Cabaret)

1st Winter Lesser Redpoll....

Adult Male Lesser Redpoll

1st Winter
Adult Male, warm rusty tones help separate the bird from Mealy Redpoll....

Lesser Redpoll is a rather scarce bird in stockholm. The race Cabaret, or Lesser Redpoll, is commonly found in the Ireland and Britain, where (Flammea)Mealy Redpoll, its more northern cousin is a rather rare and sought after sub species. Redpoll identification is an area of real interest to me and I love large getherings of these birds which allow me to look through these birds and familiarize myself with their appearance.
At Angarn today one or two Redpolls showing some very warm tones around the face and chest drew my attention, a first winter bird and an adult male.Warm russet tones were most obvious on the first winter bire, particularily about the head, extending to the breast, flanks and upperparts, overall a rather different bird to Mealy Redpoll tonally. These tonal differences, coupled with the birds slightly smaller in relation to the larger Mealy Redpoll helped identify the bird as cabaret, or Lesser Redpoll. Several small Mealy Redpolls were also noted, though generally much colder tones identified these birds as (flammea)Mealy Redpoll.