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, August 31, 2010

Great Snipe; Ågesta; 31st August 2010

Great Snipe; a record shot. Very difficult to photograph indeed, though this shot is useful nevertheless. Note the general bulk, short bill, white tipped primary covert's and upperwing pattern...


Another blurred shot, though the white on the outertail and white tipped primary covert's are enough to confirm the birds identity...



Spotted Flycatcher...



Red Backed Shrike


Great Snipe is a bird I have not seen in years, since a trip to Poland where I saw displaying birds at dusk, at about 100 metres range. The lek had been a dissapointment due to poor light, so I was very keen to see the species again, Over the past few days the species has been recorded at three of my regular birding sites and I made the trip to Ågesta early this morning as a result. A White Tailed Eagle floated past on arrival as I made my way to Pumphusängen. On arrival I was directed to a Little Grebe, before settling down for an hour. A pair of Nutcracker flew into the woods in the distance, a nice bonus, though would dearly like to see this species well.
After a while I accompanied Stefan Ettestam, a local birder who had seen the bird the previous morning, across a meadow and back through an area of damp sedge grass. After just a short way the bird exploded from just in front of us, immediatly showing the white outer tail. This was my first view of a flushed bird and I can say the species is very distintive. A heavier bird than Common Snipe, and obviously so too. The deeper barrel chest and shorter bill were very apparent, as well as the double white wingbars. The voice was simular to Common Snipe, but lower in pitch and more supressed, lacking the grating quality of Common Snipe. The bird flew a hundred metres before landing, we againg flushed it and had a more prolonged view as it circled the marsh before settling at the rear if the meadow. Managed a few record shots with the camera at this stage. All in all a very satisfying view of a difficult species, many thanks to Stefan for guiding me to the bird...
The day was not quite over and we searched the back of the meadow where I managed my first Bluethroat of the autumn, as well as Red-backed Shrikes, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Osprey and Common Buzzard. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker were heard calling, at least two individuals. I headied off around noon and stopped bt Årstafältet on the way home, dissapointing. The site has become very overgrown, so much so I fear locating migrants here may prove almost impossible. No sunflowers have been planted this year either, which is a real shame, as they attract large numbers of Tree Sparrow, Finches and Redpolls.
All in all a very good day and a swedish tick. The first good bird of the autumn and the next few weeks should see some good birds in the area...

Lesser Black Backed Gulls; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 30th August 2010

This bird was late to arrive on site, it can be assumed it fledged later than the bird below as it still reatains all of its juvenile scapulars to date. Compare with the bird below...


Note here the post juvenile moult has begun, the bird displaying six second generation scapulars, this individual appeared in mid July...

Two first calenders here from yesterday. Instructive comparison in moult progress. Both are now familiar to me and have been present at the site for some weeks now...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Herring Gull 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 28th August 2010

Classic Herring Gull undewing, notably the coffee brown barring on the axilleries. The pale window on the inner primaries on the upperwing can also be seen here...


Note the new second generation scapulars in this picture, the older birds that hatched early are now begining to moult. Pale on the head to a degree with rather dark tertials, though note the notched fringes nevertheless. This bird drew my attentoin initially, proper inspection of the bird revealed it to be a Herring Gull. Note the heavy bill with prominaent angled gonys here, another pro Herring feature...

The same bird feeding on the water...


Some shots here of a first calender Herring Gull along with captions. About 70 gulls present onsite today, 2 Great Black-backed Gull(2nd Cals), 2 Lesser Black-backed Gulls(1st Cals) were the more interesting birds. Coming into September now, hopefully the near future might bring a Caspian Gull. Having watched the site and spent so much time looking at the large Gulls onsite I finally feel I am really getting to grips with these birds, it certainly has been time well spent.

Brimstone; Tyresta NP; 28th August 2010

Brimstone. Very happy with this photo in deed, nice and sharp combined with very nice backlit light...


Brimstone; close up!


Feeding Brimstone....


Butterflies were in evidence today, with Brimstone the most numerous. These are among the most cooperative of butterfly species to photograph as they allow close approach. Took advantage today and managed to get some very nice images with the Sigma 150mm Macro lens.
Camberwell Beauty was seen today and frustratingly avoided the lend on a number of occasions, one for another day it seems...

Souther Hawker; Tyresta NP; 28th August 2010

Southern Hawker
My first image of any quality of Southern Hawker, the species always seems to be airborne. Came across this one today patrolling a large puddle in a forest track, spent 45 minutes trying to get this shot! Very quick on the wing, so happy to get a half decent image...

Tyresta National Park; 28th August 2010

Fly species, close up!


Bumblebee feeding...

Acorns now heavy on the oak trees...


Fungus species also in evidence...


Some macro images from today at Tyresta National Park. Not a lot going on birdwise, though a pair of Black Throated Divers were seen on the far side of Flaten. Lots of common passerines in evidence, notably Nuthatch, which were everywhere. Black Woodpecker was a late highlight, a male over head, later heard calling.
Luckily though lots to see elsewhere, Dragonflies, Butterflies, Insects and flora all abundant in the park, and a very enjoyable day out...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

graellsii/intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull; Skeppsbron; 22nd August 2010

Coaxed the bird onto the wharf using bread. Hazy sunshine at the time of this shot, the bird obviously pale and drew immediate attention on arrival...



In flight. The most striking feature are the white flashes on the upperwing, these are the exposed bases of secondaries due to missing wing covert's. The primary covert's are darker than the covert's and two large mirrors are plainly visible on P9 and P10.

On the water with a Herring Gull, a smaller slimmer bird as one would expect...


Another shot on land. Note that the legs are not bright yellow as in adult fuscus, appearing rather muted in tone, perhaps suggesting a sub adult bird...



Wing detail. Outer primaries P7-P10 are old feathers from last spring. Mirrors on P 9 and P10, suggesting an adult bird in moult? The regrowing P6 can clearly be seen growing out. The inner primaries are fresh and new. Inner primary coverts seem new and appear grey, in contrast to older outer coverts which appear rather dark with very small whitish tips to the feathers. Missing coverts on the innerwing are cause of the bases of the secondaries being on view, which show whitish....



Another decent shot of the bird at rest on the water...



On land. Appearing a liitle darker here, due to the sun being behind cloud.



At rest on the water. Red orbital ring and adult type bill.



A useful shot despite not being pin sharp. Note here the worn central tail feather in contrast to the new outertail feathers. This bird is in active moult...




Arrived at Skeppsbron today to find this Light Mantled Lesser Black-backed Gull on site, a bird I have seen on one previous occasion in bad weather. The bird showed well today and I managed to get some very useful shots of this bird. I suspect this bird to be a sub adult bird due to the leg colour, but ageing is difficult to say the least...
With regard to race, it is most likely this is a western bird due to the moult score, having had some helpful advice on the bird. A Graellsii/Intermedius it would seem....



Great Black-backed Gull; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 22nd August 2010

Note the large angled bill with very prominent gonys. Fresh feathered, a very nice gull to look at.


Size alone is a good feature, not the biggest individual, yet still noticably bulkier than Herring Gull...

Here you can see the delicately marked head and breast, second year birds show whiter in this area. Lovely fresh first generation feathers on view here, note the tertial pattern and thin pale fringes on the new primaries...


Photos here of a first calender year Great Black-backed Gull from Skeppsbron today, the first I have manged to get shots of this year...

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Great Black-backed Gull; Second Calender; Skeppsbron; August 2010

The first image of this bird on land here, a decent shot of this individual. Note the whitish head and breast. The heavy angular bill is very well shown here. Second generation mantle, scapulars and covert's...

Herring Gull; 4th Calender Plus; Skeppsbron; August 2010

A bird probably in it's fourth year here, primaries in moult with longest feathers regenerating. Note the dark eye, bill markings and tone, marked head and breast and uniform grey upperparts...

Herring Gull; 3rd Calender; Skeppsbron; August 2010






A couple of shots of Herring Gull in 3rd Calender plumage, generally speaking rather uniform in appearance at this age...

Herring Gull; Second Calenders; Skeppsbron; August 2010

This dark bird is very familiar, having been onsite for at least six weeks now. P10 and P11 are dropped which gives the bird a rather squat profile. Compare tone to bird below...


A rather pale bird this one, primary moult not quite as advanced as the bird above...

Yet another bird, again variable in comparison to others...


Another pale bird, this one displaying a two tone bill with pinkish base. A new arrival this individual...


The most variable of age groups this, argentatus Herring Gulls in their second calender year, have been trying to get a good set off reference photos as a result, a few of the better ones here...

Herring Gull; 1st Calenders; Skeppsbron; August 2010


















Another selection of shots of argentatus Herring Gull 1st Calenders, the better shots taken of late on site here...


Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; 16th August 2010


A shot of a calling Herring Gull from Skeppsbron...

Lesser Black-backed Gulls; Skeppsbron; 16th August 2010

A new bird this one from today, much paler in appearance than the bird below with broader feather fringes on the upperwing...


A familiar bird this now, a decent shot of it on the deck here...

Friday, August 13, 2010

Herring Gull 2nd Calender; Skeppsbron; 12th August 2010












Some 2nd Calender Argentatus Herring Gulls here from Skeppsbron, remarkably variable they are too...