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, December 31, 2009

Graellsii/Intermedius Lesser Black Backed Gull?; Skeppsbrön; 31st December 2009

In flight, general impressions are of a rather thickset, chunky bird, not quite what one might expect of the race 'fuscus', the prevelant race in Stockholm...


Size comparison with argentatus Herring Gull, the bird was perhaps 5% smaller than most, but in general looked large. Structurally too the bird seemed chunky, thick across the chest and body with a rather short primary projection that was more akin to argentatus than a fuscus Lesser Black-backed Gull.

Upperparts in flight. Note inner webs on the inner primaries are darkish grey and most especially the tiny mirror on P10, apparently very rare in both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull at this age. Also atypical, the tail band is not demarcated, the uppertail and rump mottled.


On the water showing left side. Note scapular tone and obvious dark pin shafts. Light tone suggests Graellsii? Tertials not solidly dark, tips marbled, possibly two fresh feathers here. Note juvenile bill and eye.

Close up up scapulars, coverts, tertials and primaries...


Useful shot showing both the under and upperwing, the bird was not intimidated in any way by argentatus and was at the centre of every feeding frenzy.


Slightly out of focus but useful shot of the underparts in flight.Underwing coverts well marked as one might ecpect of this species.

Again the upper and underwing on show here....


Perhaps the best shot of the upper wing. Primaries fresh, blackish and without white tips. Fresh median covert's noticable here, note also the new generarion greater covert's, brownish grey in tone.


Ont the water, this time showing the right hand side. Note the pale head and breast, relitively lightly built bill without a prominent gonydeal angle...


Returned to obtain shots of this bird today, ignoring a male Black Throated Thrush to do so, am intrigued by this birds presence in Stockholm, as I feel this is not a fuscus type bird. Happily, I managed a range of shots on the water and in flight which should prove useful for furhter scrutiny of the bird. Unfortunatly the bird seems to loathe dry land and no shots of the bird on dry land as a result! A bird of intermedius/graellsii race?
Hope the Black Throated Thrush sticks around lest some people doubt my sanity...






Argentatus Herring Gulls; Skeppsbrön; 31st December 2009

Herring Gull; Argentatus; Portrait of a 3rd Calender bird.

1st Cal. year Agentatus in the snow...

Argentatus; 3rd Calender year...
A few shots of Argentatus Herring Gull from today, the light being rather good at time in the afternoon.


Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lesser Black-backed Gull, race intermedius/graellsii , 28th December 2009..



Both photos uploaded for interest...

This bird now confirmed as a Lesser Blacked-backed Gull as I initially thought, though does not seem to fit the bill for 'fuscus' due to the rather light tones on the mantle and scapulars, will return to get more photo's of this bird....

Gulls, Stockholm; 28th December 2009


1st Calender bird and a real brute this one. This is in actual fact a Herring Gull, race Argentatus! A rather dark bird, with solid dark primaries, nonetheless a Herring Gull, albeit a very interesting one. Initially identified this bird as a Lesser Black Backed Gull, ignoring the obvious bulk and structure, which point firmly to Herring Gull, note for example the short primaries...

Another very dark backed Gull; sub adult bird on the water, extensive dark grey on the mantle and scapulars, Some very worn feathers on the greater and median coverts. Again I misidentified this bird as well due to the remarkably dark tones, putting it down as a Lesser Black Backed Gull. Once the dark tones are discounted the structure is obvious as belonging to that of Herring Gull, note again the short primaries and the general bulk....

Edit; This bird has now been reevaluated and is actually thought to be a Lesser Black-backed Gull as I initially thought, the tones on the back are too dark for Argentatus? The bird is large however and not as dark as Fuscus should be. The structure too is rather off for fuscus, this bird being rather thickset in general, looks rather short winged and is possibly a bird of race intermedius/graelsii, though further determination of race may be impossible to establish....


A couple of photos taken in the afternoon of two dark Gulls which were present today at Skeppsbrön, close to the city centre. The first bird I misidentified due to exceptional dark tones in the plumage as Lesser Black Backed Gull, an object lesson in giving common birds a closer look before jumping to conclusions...

Sandemar; 28th December 2009

Great Grey Shrike, always a super way to end the day...

Sandemar Reserve in the grips of a big freeze...

Blue Tit in reeds, alas no Bearded Tits on site...


Sandemar Reserve


Spent the early morning in Sandemar, initially searching for Bearded Tit without sucess. Tough, cold condition, deep snow made walking exhausting work. not a lot about at this time of year, a few Whooper Swans were expected, as were 175 Siskin feeding in the woods high in the trees. A Black Woodpecker remained elusive there also. The best came last in the form of Great Grey Shrike, always a good bird to see....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Norra Järvafältet; 10th December 2009

Great Spotted Woodpecker; Male

Blue Tit

Great Spotted Woodpecker; Male

Blue Tit

Went out to Norra Järvafältet yet again to try and get some shots of the Isabelline Wheatear, alas a no show and it seems the bird may have left the area, or perhaps more likely has expired due to lack of food. Contented myself with a walk about the area and ended up getting some good shots of common species despite the dull, damp conditions, the best of which have been posted above. Hoping for a freeze soon, been exceptionally mild here to date and we are still waiting on the first snow of the winter. The birding will remain quite should it stay mild, whereas a drop to minus degrees might bring some winter birds from the far north....

Monday, December 07, 2009

Isabelline Wheatear; Barkarby; 7th December 2009

Record shot. An appalling day for photography, dark overcast conditions with drizzle. This bird was a remarkable find so late in the year...

Amazing news of an Isabelline Wheatear broke yesterday, the bird found on some waste ground in Barkarby, Norra Järvafältet. The species is a major rarity in here in Sweden, this record all the more remarkable for the late date of the find, the bird has perhaps been in the area for some time and remained undetected until it was noticed on the roadside by a birder who happened to drive past!
Arrived around noon in terrible conditions, the day was remarkably dark with light drizzle prevailing. The bird proved rather difficult to see at first, staying on the ground in knee high vegetation most of the time. Over the course of the day however I managed some good views through the scope in order to take in the salient features. One fairly lousy record shot posted above. Will perhaps return on Wednesday when the crowds have died down to attempt a better shot of the bird should it remain in the area..

Edit; Despite best efforts later in the week I did not manage a decent shot of this bird, have added a link below to video footage of the bird taken by Magnus L....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UMCz-ThXn-M&feature=related