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

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A lifer and a Lapland bunting; 26th January 2010

A great days birding began early with a train to Stuvsta for a very special bird, Two Barred Crossbill. A species I have heard twice overhead and not seen, therefore it remained off my life list. Arrived at 09.45 and began combing the area, frustratingly hearing the odd Common Crossbill in the distance at intervals. Then frustration reached new heights when I heard the Two Barred call three times at 10.20 from a thick stand of pine, again I did not see the bird and it slipped away unseen. An hour of further searching followed before I decided to head for the bus. Then just ten minutes before the bus arrived sweet joy arrived, a Common Crossbill was heard first, then the Bullfinch like trumpet call of Two Barred Crossbill. Better followed as both birds alighted on top of a spruce directly across the road from me and allowed me good views through the binoculors before they again took flight and dissapeared. I had a pretty good look at the bird, an adult female, taking in the double wing bars and fringed tertials, bright rump, greyish tones, smaller bill and general size. The bird called a few times and cemented my view that this is the best means of identification, a really diagnostic call, similar to Bullfinch, though with a slight quality akin to blowing across the top of a bottle. Lifer! Result!
Onward then to Västerhanige by bus and train in search of a Lapland Bunting, a bird reported feeding in a garden there. Arrived at the site and scanned the tree over the feeding station, there it was....


My first view of the bird, sitting with its back to me, above the feeding station. een a while since I have had a good view of the species and this was very much enjoyed..


The bird remained in the tree for some time, eventually perching in a position that allowed me better shots with no obstructions. Very nice indeed when the bird turned and showed the lovely markings on the upper breast, this confirming it as a male bird....

Another shot from the same spot, a really nice bird this....


Eventually, as I hoped the bird went to groung to feed and gave me some fantastic views. Got a lot of shots on the ground, this being as good as any.
Eventually the bird went back to the tree, just before a Sparrowhawk spooked it and the other birds in the area as it tried to catch a Blackbird in a surprise attack, it missed and sent birds scattering in every direction. Left at that point very happy with superb views of the Bunting. Just up the road a small bonus in the form of a small flock of Waxwing, which i managed a few shots of...


Waxwings, first shot taken from the road....


Moved closer and managed to get this shot in before the birds moved on throught the gardens on the road....

Onwards then towards town in the hope of Glaucous Gull, though alas no sign of the beast today. A few shots taken and a few birds noted. thre Graellsii/Intermedius Lesser Black Backed Gull is still in the area. Also noted a pair of Goshawk, which was a real highlight as they locked talons in mid air briefly over my head....

Tufted Duck, a drake bird. I counted 235 of these bird this evening....


Herring Gull, a 3rd Calender type bird...


All in all a really superb day, considering this is January the birding is exceptional at the moment. Seems to be lots about at the minute and hopefully some more surprises to come in the next few weeks. Did hear tonight the Glaucous Gull was seen this morning at Skeppsbron, then later at roost at Hammarby. Still would like some decent images of that bird, as well as possibly an image of the Two Barred Crossbill, though the latter may prove extremely difficult....




Monday, January 25, 2010

Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; 25th January 2010


With hindsight I thought would post this shot of a 2nd calender Herring Gull, rather like the shot. Caught this guy whilst rising of the ground to intercept a piece of bouncing bread which I had flung in it's direction.

Black-headed Gulls; Skeppsbron; 25th January 2010














After combing the area without sucess for Glaucous Gull today I decided upon a bit of photography and with plenty of obliging Black-headed Gulls in the area I decided to try and get some close range flight shots with the 50mm Nikkor 1.8 lens for a change. I attracted the birds by feeding bread and soon had them taking it from my outstreched hand. This lens allows a much greater range of focus and I was able to get some great shots of these birds....


Whooper Swans; Skeppsbron; 25th January 2010





New arrivals at Skeppsbron today were these Whooper Swans, very nice to see thses birds in the area. Often difficult to approach in more rural habitats and so I was glad of the chance to grab a few shots of the birds today. Plenty of birds about today including 450 Goosander, 210 Tufted Duck and a handful of Pochard. No sign of the Glacous Gull today, the bird was present all day yesterday and giving good close range views, whilst I was working...

Goosanders, Skepsbron; 25th January 2010

Female Goosander, lovely birds these....


A section of a large flock, predominantly male birds in this one, which numbered over a hundred birds..

A female bird having a scratch....


Drake Goosander. Always very diificult to see the eyes on these birds....


A few shots here from today of Goosander, large numbers have now gathered in the open water around Strommen. At least 5oo birds noted today whilst looking around the area...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Water Rail; Råstasjön; 21st January 2010

The best shot of the day, a stunning close up of this elusive species is a real result...






















If at first you don't suceed...back to Råstasjön today in the hope of seeing Water Rail, a bird that is notoriously secretive and hard to photograph. The results greatly surpassed my expectations, no less than three birds were present and fed just a few metres in front of me, allowing some rare images of this bird. The species is prctically impossible to view in summer when it remains within thick reedbeds, here in Sweden it is an uncommon bird as it is and the cold spell has caused these birds to feed in areas where open water remains. A small steam by the path at the north of the lake has concentrated these birds and allowed breathtaking views...



Redwing; Råstasjön; 21st January 2010












Delighted to get these shots of Redwing today, a bird I have been trying to photograph well for the past couple of weeks. This bird was really confiding, a real star in fact and allowed me to get by far my best shots of this attractive thrush to date...

Grey Herons; Råstasjön; 21st January 2010










Spent a while on Grey Herons today in flight, the light was not great but managed these shots nevertheless. A total of 43 birds present today, giving great oppurtunities for photography...


Robin; Råstasjön; 21st January 2010





A couple of R0bin photos from today, a scarce bird here in winter, the cold making them more confiding...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Råstasjön; 20th January 2010

Grey Heron. On arrival at the site came across 38 of these birds congregated about a small area of open water at the south end of the lake. Tough times at the moment for these birds, the big freeze means open water is very rare and feeding is very hard for these birds as a result...


Redwing. Quite a few noted today, this bird approaching open water to drink. Still trying to get a quality shot of this species, decided to spread some apples in the back garden this evening, hopefully these will attract a few of these birds over the next few days...

Grey Heron in flight...

Made the tripe to Råstasjön today in the hope of photographing a very obliging Water Rail, the bird being present at the north end of the lake where a small stream runs from the lake, a rare area of open water resulting. The bird didn't show! The fact that it has been giving itself up to every photographer to visit the site over the past fortnight had caused a high degree of optimism on my part of gaining some images of this hard to see species, sod's law prevailed in the end. A few shots grabbed of Grey Heron and Redwing all the same. May try for this bird again should it show again....

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Winter Thrushes; 17th January 2010

Redwing. Wonderful birds these, delighted to finally get a decent shot of one of these birds on the ground feeding. hopefully the sun will brighten a day up soon and i can perhaps get some well lit images of this species...


Male Blackbird. A very common species but I rather like this shot all the same...

Female Blackbird, this shot taken using a little fill in flash in order to get some detail on a dark day...


Finally a half decent shot of a Redwing after half an hour of stalking the three birds present....


Fieldfare, plenty of these common thrushes around today...


Female Blackbird...

Posted here are some shots taken in here back garden today. Over the week the big freeze has seen three Redwing turn up, having been attracted by some apples I have been putting out since the big freeze began. I had been waiting for a bright day, just couldn't resist it all the same even when the light was so poor today. Was forced to use fill in flash for some of these shots today, spent about 45 minutes grabbing these shots before the Redwings flew out of the area...



Monday, January 11, 2010

Skeppsbrön; 11th January 2010

Female Goosander, about 250 of these birds present today as the big freeze continues...


Greater Black-backed Gull, this bird new to the area, a 2nd calender....


Greater Black-backed Gull, the bird caught in flight....


The Graellsii/Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull still present today...

A few shots from Strömmen this morning, numbers of birds well up as the big freeze continues. Strömmen is one of the few areas in Stockholm that stays free of ice and therefore concentrates birds. No sign of the Glaucous Gull today, the bird proving rather mobile within the city....