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

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Two-barred Crossbill; Adult Males; Uppsala; 24th January 2012

































More images here of Two-barred Crossbill males from a couple of days ago, naturally with such incredibly close views a lot of images were taken. Going through some two hundred shots after the event  you realise that several more shots are worth a second look, so here they are...


Brambling; Ravalen; 25th January 2012

 The bird I went for today, a male Brambling. This bird has wintered here near the feeding station and I was happy when it appeared after about 20 minutes and began to feed. Always a nice bird to see well and very distinctive, both in voice and appearance...




 The bird feeding on seed with Yellowhammers. The birds right wing appears to be drooping down slightly, perhaps the reason it didn't migrate? This is a scarce species in midwinter here in Sweden..




 Bullfinch, a female bird approaches the feeding station. Six birds were present today at the site..




 A cock Bullfinch, a blaze of colour amid the other birds. Alway nice to see this wonderful finch, this is one site were they can be guaranteed in winter..




 Marsh Tit. Three birds at least visiting the site for food. Willow Tit does not use this feeding station as far as I know, though a few kilometres away another station does attract them. This bird here has a rather small bib, although is rather small headed. Always safest to distinguish the two species on call were possible...




The ubiquitous Yellowhammer, a very common species here in Sweden and very quick to take advantage of feeding stations...

A visit to Ravalen today, principally to see the Brambling that has been wintering at the site. On arrival it wasn't around, though there was plenty of activity in the area. 20 Yellowhammer, 3 Marsh Tit, 2 Tree Sparrow, 1 Robin and 6 Bullfinch were the best of it, amonst the Great Tit, Blue Tit, Nuthatch and Blackbirds also present. After 25 minutes I picked the Brambling up in cover, though eventually it showed very well indeed on the ground...

Hawfinch; Viby; 25th January 2012

 Hawfinch. It took me some time to get any kind of decent shot of these birds today, an elusive and wary species. They are worth the effort though as they are stunning birds. Today there were good numbers of this species in the trees at Viby, perhaps as a result of the recent winter weather..




 The birds were moving about a great deal, but there was no doubt that many were visiting the local bird feeders, of which there are several in the area. Nevertheless they were very difficult to approach and would not tolerate a close approach...




 These are beautifully marked birds. The tan brown head is given much character by the dark mask and bib. The bill is huge and can apply massive force to crack the toughest of seeds...




 The blue grey nape and neck sides is one of my favourite features, subtle from some angles, very obvious from others. The full depth of the bill can be appreciated here. Note also the white secondaries, forming a distinct pale area on the upperwing. The underparts combine a wonderful mauve brown breast and belly, with a clean white vent and undertail. Most curious of all though are the crimped tertials, unique to the species...




These are curious birds, seemingly intelligent and always aware of my presence and position today. This was a typical view, the birds were sitting high in the tall trees in the area, very vocal and associating loosely over a couple of hundred square metres...

Viby lies just north of Ravalen in Norra Järvafältet and is the best site I know for Hawfinch. As I approached today it was immediately apparent that the birds were present in numbers, their calls unmistakable and frequent. As I got into the area I realized many were present and I counted at least 32 birds in the area, generally high above me. I spent a couple of hours trying to get close to them but the birds were elusive and very aware of my presence. In the end a few record shots were forthcomong. It was very nice indeed to watch these birds for a few hours...


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Two-barred Crossbills at Uppsala; Video Footage


Very happy with this video footage of the Uppsala Two-barred Crossbills, without a doubt my best footage to date. Click on the link below...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4aza7Xm-ANc&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A&index=1&feature=plcp


Two-barred Crossbill; Adult Males; Uppsala; 24th January 2012

























Two-barred Crossbill. A bird I have seen a few times this winter due to the eruption, though never managed any really close up shots, mind you I was happy with the few decent images I did get. Then yesterday I saw Zacke Svennson's images of Two-barred Crossbills at Fålhagen, Uppsala. The birds, which he found at a stand of Larch trees in the suburbs, were feeding low and fearlessly, allowing incredibly close approach. Many thanks to Zacke for the directions kindly provided...
 I got onsite early and quickly located two birds on call. Soon there were at least seven birds high up in the tress. After a while I saw a few birds split from the flock and drop down to the trees near the road. I approached quietly. A second calender male, a female and two adult males the proceeded to give me the most incredible views, down to just a few inches. It was an incredible experience to have these birds right in front of me feeding and calling. They were so close, in fact, I had to step back constantly to allow the camera to focus. I spent a few hours photographing and watching these stunning, characterful birds at incredibly close quarters. Quite simply one of the most incredible bird encounters of my life, the photo's speak a thousand words..

Two-barred Crossbill; 2nd Calender Male; Uppsala; 24th January 2012















Here a 2nd calender male Two-barred Crossbill, a stunning bird and the only one present. This bird me unforgetable views down to a few inches, it was completely fearless and totally unconcerned by my presence. Despite poor light the photos give an indication of how memorable an experience this was. Though the adult males were more arresting in colour, this is a subtle and beautiful birds. Orange/Red tones hinted through the plumage, the contrast afforded by the black and white retrices and dak feather centres on the scapulars, as well as streaked vent and undertail, ensured this was a bird to savour...the photos speak for themselves.

Two-barred Crossbill; Female; Uppsala; 24th January 2012









Shots here of the females seen on the day, two of which were present today. These are very beautiful birds in their own right and the sulphur tones in the plumage are incredible. These birds were so close to me that I had to back up to get the birds into focus! A quite incredible day that will live long in the memory..


Monday, January 23, 2012

Shoveler; Råstasjön; 23rd January 2012

A female Shoveler at rest on the ice. A medium sized duck with large flattened bill and orange feet. The flanks and belly show some lovely ochre tones...


The bird showing the blue forewing and green base to the secondaries here...


Above and below, the bird on the water. Not a difficult bird to identify given a reasonable view, mainly due to the bill, from which the species gets it's name...






The bird preening, showing the full breadthe of the bill, which really is quite amazing...


A nice view of the open wings here, a wonderful blue grey forewing and irredescent green speclum on the secondaries...


A female Shoveler here has spent the winter at Råstasjön to date. The bird first appeared in the autumn and as the winter progressed and the freeze worsened the bird was forced to seek out the remaining open water. The bird is now present at a small area of open water where a stream flows from the lake, giving close range views and great photo opportunities...

Video Here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R6Fud3zNzUw&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A&index=1&feature=plpp_video

Grey Heron; Råstasjön; 23rd January 2012























Shots here of Grey Heron from this morning. The birds were at close range and giving brilliant photo opportunities on the day...

Video Here; http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W4Jye5UqHmY