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 25, 2011

Adult Argentatus Herring Gull; January 2011

Note the strongly mirrored primaries, grey primaries on view here too, from P5 inwards. Adult bill and pale iris, uniformly grey upperparts, white tail among other features...


The underside of P10 visible here, showing a large whitish mirror...


Note the short legged appearance, short bill and short primary projection...


A few shots of adult Argentatus Herring Gull from Skeppsbron. Argentatus albums in blog margin now updated...

Herring Gull; 4th Calender; January 2011

Bill approaching adult birds, more extenive dark markings. Rather clean head and undercarriage. Junenile markings still evident on the coverts, note new grey tertials and small mirrors on upper primaries. Dark eyed individual, considerable variation in iris colour in these birds...


This bird appears more heavily marked on the head and undercarriage. The iris is yellowish. More extesive juvenile coverts, with an overall brownish appearance, note mirrors again on upper primaries. Tailband appeared rather broken and predominently white...

A couple of 4th Calender Argentatus Herring Gulls here from Skeppsbron...

Monday, January 24, 2011

Herring Gull; 3rd Calender Argentatus; January 2011

This bird shows a pinkish based bill with extensive dark band. Pale headed and dark eyed. The mantle and scapulars have been moulted as well as a single tertial. Note the brownish rounded primaries on this bird.



Many bird appeared as this bird does, perhaps this might be described as a classic third calender in January...


A fourth calender bird for comparison. This bird is more advanced with regard to a pale yellowish iris and more adult like bill. The mantle and scapualrs are uniformly grey. Coverts and tertials are largely juvenile...note the whitish markings at the tips of the primaries. This bird, in common with other 4th Calender birds, displayed new inner primaries of 3rd generation, grey adult tone...



These birds are very variable. This one shows a pinkish bill base, light iris, though not yellow in colour. Mantle and scapulars show some dark streaked feathering. Small white mirrors are apparent on the upperside of the primaries. No extensive mirror is apparent on the underside of P10. A somewhat intermediate bird, did not see the inner primaries on this bird and so this bird is diffcult to age with 100 per cent certainty, best called a 3rd Calender plus...



Some more reference shots of Argetatus Herring Gulls from Skeppsbron...

Herring Gulls, 2nd Calender Argentatus; January 2011

A rather large deep chested bird. The bill has lightened slightly in tone since last autumn. The mantle and scapulars have been moulted and second generation feathers are apparent. Note the first generation covert's and tertials, along with the brownish, rounded primaries.


A paler bird than above, though generally speaking all of the points made for the above bird apply to this one also...

This bird rather dark and well marked on the head...


Another bird resting in the sun...



Images here taken for reference albums, all of the above are Argentatus Herring Gull just coming into their second calender year...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Grey Herons; January 2011












Drawings of Grey Herons from Rästasjön. The birds sitting out the cold in freezing conditions...

Smew female; January 2011








Some drawings of a female Smew from Rästasjön...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Coues's Arctic Redpoll; Barnangen; 17th January 2011

The first view of the bird as it sat over the feeders among Goldfinch. First impressions were of a very pale bird with an unmarked buff/salmon washed breast and rather reduced streaking on the flanks...a male?


A heavily cropped record image. Several key features can be seen in this shot...
1. Very small bill with straight edged culmen.
2.Rather reduced, small area of red on the forehead.
3. Suffuse salmon washed buff throat and upper breast largely unmarked.
4. Snow white flanks and belly sporting more diffuse and sparse streaking in comparison to Mealy Redpoll.
5. Snow white, completely unmarked undertail covert's.
6. General pale, frosty appearance of plumage overall.
7. Mantle and majority of the scapulars whitish based forming predominantly white based back.

Here with a Goldfich appearing remarkably pale. The general pallid appearance, the pale, unmarked salmon washed breast and completely unmarked undertail covert's suggest this to be a male bird, possibly an adult bird? With regard to determining beyond any doubt whether the bird is an adult or otherwise, I did not see the shape of the tail feathers well enough. Older birds beyond their second calender year have rounded retrices across the entire tail. I may return to see this bird again in order to learn more.


Here another record shot of the bird feeding with Mealy Redpolls on the ground, the bird here on the far right. The bird is noticably pallid and small billed even at some distance.


The second trip to Barnangen this month to see Coues's Arctic Redpoll. Had brief views of the bird on the last visit, though I wanted to photograph the bird today and duly did so, albeit a little distantly. A very informative morning spent watching a really stunning bird. Key identification points can be found in the caption below the photos.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Smew; Rästasjön; 15th January 2010

Smew. A small diving duck belonging to the sawbill family, close relations being the larger Red Breasted Merganser and the even larger Goosander. This female was a delight to watch at close range, my first good shots of the species were the result. This bird is rather easy to identify, the reddish brown head and white cheeks the most noticable feature...





A Canada goose dwarfs this small diving duck...


The bird occasionally hauled itself out onto the ice, this photo shows how far back the lags are placed on the species...







The reddish tones on the head just visible here...



A good record shot showing the upperwing pattern...



News came through that a female Smew had turned up at the lake on the only patch of open water for miles. Whilst the species is far from a rarity around Stockholm, it rarely offers close views in the area. This bird was at fairly close range and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to get a few shots of the species, I was happy to find the bird immediatly on my arrival. Spent a couple of hours photographing and sketching the bird, a lovely female type. A male would be quite a lovely sight at that range!
Other birds were rather scarce, though a Water Rail was seen briefly. A Great Black-backed Gull was picked out among the Argentatus Herring Gulls, whilst 47 Grey Heron were on site at the west end. A single Jay was the best of the landbirds...
Some further posts below deal with a few of these birds on the day...


Great Black-backed Gull; 3rd Calender; Rästasjön; 15th January 20100

Great Black.backed Gull, the bird drinking. I aged this bird as a third calender due to the extensive dark grey tones on the mantle and scapulars primarily. The clean whitish head neck and breast also suggest a bird in the second winter of it's life. Wing covert's are second generation, as are the tertials.


Next to a second calender Argentatus Herring Gull(left). The birds larger bulk is obvious in this shot, a deeper chested and mare powerful bird. The bill is noticably heavier, depper and blunter with a more pronouced gonedeal angle...

A small looking individual. Note the pale tip to the bill. The deep chested build is obvious in this shot...


Some shots here of a 3rd Calender Great Black-backed Gull, which I picked out from the Herring Gulls at Rästasjön yesterday. Notes added below the pictures regarding main key identification features...

Herring Gull; Rästasjön; 15th January 2011

Argentatus 2nd Calender. This bird just begining it's second calender year, note the mantle and scapulars are all second generation feathers, the juvenile feathers have long since been moulted. The inner tertials have been dropped. Also of interest the pale tip on the bill and beginings of a two toned appearance...


Argentatus 3rd Calender. Note the advanced moult of the upperwing feathers in comparison the the bird above, which is a year younger. Another obvious advance can be seen on the bill, the yellow tones indicating a bird at least in it's third calender year. Note the fresh grey inner tertial...

Adult Argentatus in winter plumage at rest on the ice...


Some images here of Argentatus Herring Gulls at rest at Rästasjön....

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Grey Heron; Rastasjön; 15th January 2011
















Some images from today from Rastasjön. Very cold conditions are tough on these birds and the only area of open water at the site is just a few square metres or so, a precarious lifeline for so many birds. Almost 50 birds present today as tempertures approached minus ten degrees. The birds were close to the camera, providing some good oppurtunities for photography...

Monday, January 03, 2011

Colour Ringed Herring Gull; Howth; Dublin; December 2010



A shot here of a first winter argenteaus Herring Gull, the bird seen at Howth Harbour on 21st December 2010 whilst checking the local gulls around the area. The blue ring, with code OCP, is clearly visible in this image. Currently trying to find out where this bird was ringed...

Pintail; North Bull Island; December 2010

The best shot of the day...


A female directly overhead...










Some flight shots here of Pintail over the causeway on North Bull Island, Dublin. The light on the day was quite superb and allowed me to get some good shots of the birds as the moved to the southern salt marsh at high tide.