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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Herring Gull initially thought a Caspian Gull; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011

My first view of the bird. My immediate reaction was of a Caspian Gull and the birds bill drew my eye back to it again and again, surely a Herring Gull could never show such a long, fine, parallel sided bill . The pale small head only accentuated the remarkably long bill, with reduced gonydeal angle. Obviously a second calender bird....but such a striking gull. Note the pale fringes to primaries and primary covert's.



Note the grey mantle and scapulars, lighter in tone than the nearby Herring Gulls of the same age. Dark shafts and anchor marks are seem classic Caspian Gull? Note the dark, solid brown tertials. The greater coverts give me some concerns and would of expected more finely marked centres, though I have no experience of second calender Caspian Gull to judge this upon. Lesser and Median covert's are brownish with creamy fringes. The bird appeared slim in comparison with Herring Gulls, longer winged and a little longer legged. It appeared high chested when it stood still. Caspian should show more wear in the coverts whichh points towards a Herring Gull...
The bird in flight... Broad tail band is well defined, not heavily marked inner tail. Light rump and lower back is lightly marked. Dark trailing edge to rear wing formed by the dark secondaries, note the inner primary window, this points towards a Herring Gull. The basic impression in flight was of a pale, grey bodied gull with colour demarciated, brown wings..


Another close up of the bird on the ground right in front of me. Note the well marked nape, another often mentioned Caspian feature. The longer I watched this bird I found I had niggling doubts as to this bird, why was the head not cleaner white with no streaking? Shouldn't some of the coverts how moult?

Detail of the mantle and scapulars. A very well marked bird indeed, I would perhaps of expected wear to make the scapulars less well so. The shafts are dark and lead into a dark anchor shaped crescent. A few retained lower scapulars point again to Herring Gull...



Detail of the tertials. Note the greater coverts, more in lne with Herring Gull than of Caspian..



The bird landing. Generally the bird showed a pale undercarriage. ..



This from today at Skeppsbron of what appeared to me at first to be a Caspian Gull, though a few niggling doubts on this bird soon surfaced. This bird landed right in front of me whilst feeding bread to the asembled gulls. The long bill, pale head, slim build and high chested look suggested Caspian Gull, a very rare bird here in late winter.
Edit; The bird has now been confirmed as a Herring Gull, with advice from experts helping greatly, Fresh coverts, retained lower scaps and the inner primary window suggest a Herring Gull, albeit a slight, long billed bird. An interesting and informative bird..



Dark Herring Gull; Second Calender; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011

This bird really stood out amongst the other Herring Gulls at the site today, a very dark bird indeed, as can be seen from this shot...


Note here the solidly dark tertials...

The bird stretching, note the inner primary wing panel. The underwing was rather pale in comparison to the upperparts, in line with the other second calender birds.

Images here of a remarkably dark Herring Gull in it's 2nd calender seen this morning at Skeppsbron. Plenty of interesting gulls about, this being one of those birds...

Ringed Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011

C85HS is the ring code. clearly visible in this shot....


The same bird in flight, aged as a 4th calender plus. Note the markings on the primary covert's, which betray the birds age, a sub adult.

A ringed Argentatus Gull from today at Skeppsbron. Picked up this bird shortly after arrival and got some images in order to track the bird. I have not come across this bird before, it will be interesting to find out where the bird was ringed...

Herring Gull; Adult; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011

An adult Argentatus showing yellowish legs, not unusual at this site in winter....

Herring Gull; 4th Calender; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011

A very heavy billed individual this one, also displaying a dark eye...


A more typical bird. Note whitish mirrors on the primaries, which help to age these birds...

A couple of images of 4th calender Herring Gulls from Skeppsbron today...

Herring Gull; Third Calender; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011

A darkish bird with typically pale head, note the seconde generation covert's and tertials...


A much paler bird with a paler bill, similar to that found on a first calender Glaucous Gull. The iris is pale in this individual, some show a dark eye like the bird above..

A couple of images from today of third calender Herring Gulls from Skeppsbron..

Herring Gull; Second Calender; Skeppsbron; 28th Febuary 2011




A couple of images of second calender Herring Gulls from today at Skeppsbron...

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Crested Tits; Febuary 2011








Sketches from Faboda Gård of Crested Tit, the birds showing incredibly well at a bird feeder..



A couple of head details...

Goldeneye in display; Febuary 2011







Some sketches of displaying Goldeneyes from Skeppsbron. Very hard to draw the quick movements and raher hard to know whats going on, have taken photos too to helps try see the postures a little more clearly...

Saturday, February 26, 2011

SparrowHawk; Gamla Stan; 23rd Febuary 2011

A quite remarkable photo, taken by a friend, Ian Taylor on a camera phone on the platform of Gamla Stan tube station a few days ago. The bird has taken a feral pigeon right in the middle of the day to the astonishment of commuting passengers...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Identification of Willow Tit/Marsh tit; Faboda Gård; 24th Febuary 2011

A Marsh Tit. A typical individual. Note the relatively concolorous upperwing. This shot shows the bib very well indeed, larger than Willow Tit and anything but petite and tidy. The bib is ill defined and extends onto the lower throat and upper breast. Compare with the bird pictured below...


Willow Tit; Note the structure, a large headed and bull necked bird. These bird excavate their omn nestholes on the soft wood of dead birch trees...



The pale wing panel can be seen here, one of the major identifying features of the species. The bird appeared very pallid in general this birds underparts are rather clean. Scandinavian birds average slightly larger and paler than continental birds...



A very good shot of the bib. Small and petit, well defined at it's edges. Note again the stout neck


Shortly after searching in vain for the Three Toed Woodpecker nearby I decided to head for the feeding station. A few minutes observation revealed a single Willow Tit was coming to feed along with a couple of Marsh Tits and I had great views of both, allowing comparison of these two very simular species. Oddly, the Willow tit was the only bird to call, a distinctive "Erz Erz Erz", which once heard is the easiest way of distinguishing from Marsh Tit. In contrast, Marsh Tit utters an explosive "PitChew".

Crested Tit; Faboda Gård; 24th Febuary 2011



















Crested Tit was a species I really had not managed close up shots of until today, three birds at the feeding station proved very tame and really gave themselves up to the camera. These really are stunning little birds. They were feeding on suet and sunflower seeds at the site, coming constantly for food.


Coal Tit; Faboda Gård; 24th Febuary 2011






A couple of images of Coal Tit here, a single bird present at the fedding station on site. This bird is of the scandinavian race, which is a darker bird than those found in Ireland and the UK. A very well marked and rather nice bird to look at this...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Goldeneye; Mating Display; Skeppsbrom; 21st Febuary 2011








The first signs of spring today in the form of displaying Goldeneyes, I watched three males competeing for the attention of a single female today and managed to grab a few shots as well. They males display by stretching ther neck at and angle before snapping their heads back over there back whilst calling, a call that sounds like a child toy! A nice scene to take in early this morning in the cetre of Stockholm City...

Goosander; Skeppsbron; 21st Febuary 2011










A couple of omages of female Goosander from this moring. A few hundred birds now present at the site

Mute Swan; Skeppsbron; 21st Febuary 2011




A couple of Mute Swan images from today, didn't quite get the shot I was after in the end...


A preening adult bird gave me a chance to get the number on this ring...X7758. Wil try to find out where and when this bird was ringed...


Dark eyed Herring Gull; Skeppsbron; Febuary 2011

This adult bird drew my attention. The pale head is not entirely significant at this time of the year as some argntatus Herring Gulls have claen white heads by late Febuary. The dark eye is a little more interesting though, this is a feature one expects to see of Caspian Gull in an adult bird. The longest primaries may be moulting on this individual, which gave it a short winged appearance. The bill appears good for Herring Gull, deep with a prominent gonydeal angle.
A dark eyed Herring Gull or perhaps a bird with some Caspian Gull genes...

Herring Gull; 3rd Calender; Skeppsbron; Febuary 2011

Note the pale fringes to the primaries, dark centred tertials just inside them. The bird shows plenty of faded immature coverts on the upperwing. The iris is already rather pale, note also the tone and markings on the bill...


The same bird as above in flight, the tailband appearing paler from below. The underparts are largely whitish, the barred underwing feathers of second year having been largely moulted out...


A trickier bird to age this one, after scrutiny I decided this bird to be in it's 4th calender year. Compared to the above bird note the adult type tertials and white leading edge to the covert's. The cliching feature is that white mirror on P6, an adult feather which has just grown out. The inner primaries are moulted first and provide the best means of ageing these birds correctly...


Underparts in flight.


A rather pale, slim bird....


This bird is not very advanced. Note the whitish head and underparts, second generation tertials and coverts and pale fringes to the primaries...


This individual appeared rather long legged at times....





A selection of Herring Gull images, most of these birds in their 3rd Calender year...