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

Friday, June 19, 2009

Angarn; 19th June 2009

Yellow Wagtail, a male bird of the prevalent blue headed form. A lot of these about, very vocal at the moment whilst they are feeding young.

Marsh Harrier, female type showing moult on the inner primaries

Redstart, an adult male, a nice bonus picked up whilst waiting on the bus home!

Green Woodpecker, my first image of the species, also put in an appearance at the bus stop, landing on a telegraph post across the road from me. Hopefully my days of frustrating glimpses of this species whilst I am carrying a camera are over and I will soon get some good quality photos of these lovely birds....

Pied Flycatcher, male bird, seeing a lot of these this week...

A female Yellow Wagtail calling...

Angarn Marsh. The reserve looks really well at the minute, water lavels are good and lots of lush vegetation everywhere. Looking forward to returning wader passage here in a few weeks time...

Osprey immature, the local pair have fledged four young this year and all six birds were a wonderful sight fishing over the marsh....



Midsummer trip to Angarn today was pleasant, some good birds and reasonable weather helping events. Upon arrival 6 Osprey where immediatly picked up over the reserve, two adults and their four young as it happened. Watched these birds for a while as they fished before I was treated to views of one of the birds being mobbed by an adult Hobby high over head! 4 Marsh Harriers then appeared from the reeds and the sky was suddenly full of raptors...
Yellow Wagtails everywhere at the minute, all busily feeding fledglings. Other birds noted included Wheatears, Wood Sandpipers, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting. A while later I was listening to the raucous song of 2 male Great Reed Wablers. the best bird of the day, though not seen.
A double hit of good fortune saw me pick up a cracking male Redstart and an adult male Green Woodpecker from the bus stop on the way home, managed some photos of these two before heading off!




Thursday, June 18, 2009

New Watercolour; Great Crested Grebe

Evening Reflections; Great Crested Grebe (22"x12")

Watercolour on paper, again a developed field sketch from last year. Apalling weather here in sweden at the minute, it does at least help me to work on developing a growing backlog of fieldwork...

New Watercolour; Little Ringed Plover



Little Ringed Plover; Watercolour on paper (18"x12")


Developed from a field sketch posted here on the blog last summer....

Finished Painting; Autumn Woodlark

Autumn Woodlark; Finished Canvas. (30"x10") Acrylic Paint.

Detail from painting....

The latest finished piece, a Woodlark depicted in autumn grasses. Heavy use of paint by means of a pallette knife a feature of this piece, adds a lot of interest and helped me to avoid getting bogged down in detail with regard to rendering the grasses. Limited palette using just six colours including Neutral Tint and Titanium Thite. Raw Sienna, Olive Green, Cobalt Blue and Cadium Yellow the main pigments used...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sandemar; 16th June 2009

A male Red Backed Shrike in breeding habitat, a superb looking bird...

Spotted Flycatcher

Pied Flycatcher, a male in summer plumage....

Red Backed Shrike, a female on the hunt for food...

Eider, female in flight.

Male Common Rosefinch, a better shot today...

Tree Pipit, several breeding pairs noted today.



Went back to Sandemar today for the secong day running, alas the Red Necked Phalarope was not present. Somewhat simular birds to those seen yesterday, thankfully the weather was a lot better and I was happy to get some better images today with the camera. A poor day for raptors, with little of note suprisingly, also no Caspian Terns either. Despite that a nice day, the highlight perhaps the super views of Red Backed Shrikes, four pairs located today....


Monday, June 15, 2009

Male Whinchat; always a stunning bird at this time of the year....

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

Male Common Rosefinch; rather elusive today and kept their distance from the camer, three males located singing....

A female Common Rosefinch, more obliging than the male, well almost....

Garden Warbler; a hard bird to photograph, my first image of this skulking species...

Meadow Pipit; plentiful around the reserve...

White Tailed Eagle; one of a pair of adults that floated over the reserve...

Pied Flycather; a female looking for food to feed her young...

White Wagtail

Spotted Flycatcher

Whitethroat

Pheasant; couldn't resist a snap!





Sandemar Reserve today on a mission to see Red Necked Phalarope, not to be unfortunatly. To my huge frustration I heard later that the bird flew into the area after I had left, an adult male in front of the tower! despite the dissapointment a lot of birds around, the best being a superb pair of Caspian Terns which flew by early on. Rosefinch were in evidence everywhere and a pair of adult White Tailed Eagles was a great site overhead. Whinchats, Red Backed Shrikes, Thrush Nightingales, Osprey, Green Woodpecker, Spotted Redshank, Little Ringed Plovers, Wood Sandpipers kept the interest up. A Marsh Warbler was a nice find, the bird singing from dense cover. Pied Flycatchers, Spotted Flycatchers and Icterine Warbler were found in the wooded areas, whilst a Redwing sang also. Plenty of common migrants about such as Willow Warbler, Swallows, and Swifts.
A bonus bird on the way home was a superb Great Reed Warbler at Farsta Strand, having popped by in the hope of connecting with it on my way home.






Canada Geese; Farsta; 15th June 2009








A feral species here in Stockholm, much maligned by some, still gave me some nice photo opportunities today, several confiding birds preening at very close range. A few of the better shots above....


Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hobby and Emperor Dragonfly; New Painting.

Hobby and Emperor Dragonfly; Finished Painting; 36"x24"; Acrylic on Canvas.

Detail from the finished painting....

The bird blocked in over the sky...

The first stage complete. A couple of heavy coats of sky blue applied and left to dry before I went back in and added the cloud....


My latest painting, a fairly large canvas this one. The scene was inspired by my trip to Ă–stra Styran a few weeks ago where I watched four of these brilliant little falcons hunting dragonflies over the reedbeds. Super sight and have wanted to paint it ever since.

Goldeneye Watercolour


Latest small watercolour; Goldeneye and Brood.
Developed from earlier ink sketch....

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Blyth's Reed Warbler, 13th June 2009












Some of this morning sketches from Djurgarden of a rarity, my first Blyth's Reed Warblers. Two males have taken territory at the site less than 100 metres apart! Plenty of photos of the bird on the sister blog along with some notes on the birds key ID features...


Blyth's Reed Warbler, Djurgarden, 13th June 2009

Blyth's Reed Warbler. One of two seen today both singing males, this bird giving me tremendous views throughout the morning. A lifer for me and a very welcome addition it was too.

The birds rear often appeared pinched, due to the short primaries mainly. A remarkable singer and mimic...

This shot shows the well defined supercilium and dark loral area rather well, both important features in the identification of this tricky species, easy when the bird is a singing adult, a different proposition in autumn on passage in more diificult conditions...

On occasion could very much recall Chiffchaff, as well as Booted Warbler. Given a brief view in late autumn the identification of this species could well prove a nightmare without good views. The birds call was a great aid to both locating and identifying the bird, a Lesser Whitethroat like "Teck", rather loud and would certainly draw ones attention if given from cover...

Again the ability to recall Booted Warbler or Chifchaff was remarkable when the bird raised its plumage and took on a more rounded form. The upperparts colouration was very much light dependant and in dull light the bird appeared a light sandy brown. In sunlight olive tones were more obvious...

Sang constantly. This birds song was a mix of soundbites borrowed from other species, a wonderful mimic. Within the song I recognized amazingly accurate snatches of the following species songs and calls, Swallow, House Martin, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Song Thrush, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, Wryneck, Goldeneye and Thrush Nightingale!

The bird sang from the reeds whilst I was there, though did prefer to sing from low bushes beside the footpath when left alone. The other bird also displayed a simular habitat preference and sang constantly from the low trees close to the water...

This shot shows the short primary projection quite well, the bunched primaries clearly much, much shorter than the length of the exposed tertials. By far the best feature given a decent view. Note again the apparent change in tone, the bird now appearing a darker brown colour above...

Not the clearest of shots due to the early hour and some foreground foliage, nevertheless a very useful shot showing a range of features. Note the short primary projection and well defined supercilium, the latter noticable over the loral area and extending just beyond the eye....

The so called "banana posture". Quite how these so called features attain any standing with regard to specific identification is a bit of a mystery to me. In three hours of observation the bird appeared to adopt this posture briefly twice! Surely Reed Warbler can manage to contort itself in a simular manner at least as often! In short would certainly recommend concentrating on plumage and structure, should you be lucky enough to come across an unstreaked acro with a Lesser Whitethroat like call....




A really nice morning spent on Djurgarden today, from 05.30am. The news of a singing male Blyth's Reed Warbler came as no surprise when it broke. Though rare around Stockholm a few are located each year at this time when they are in constant song through the evening, night and early morning. News of a second male less than 100 metres away was more exceptional and I made the trip this morning. Remarkably, both these birds are just a stones throw from the city centre, a species I had never seen before today.
Upon arrival both birds were immediatly located, both singing constantly. Watched the original male for a while before deciding to concentrate on the second male which was showing very well in the reeds and offered better views. In the end a very rewarding morning, plenty of photos, sketches and notes obtained on the species, which I would now be happy to tackle on a remote headland back home in Ireland should I ever be fortunate to stumble upon one some october morning....