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, May 23, 2012

Sound Recordings; Sandemar; 22nd May 2012





























Sound recordings of various species taken on a night/pre dawn session at Sandemar. There is a full written acount of the outing below, under the posted recordings...


Marsh Warbler singing at night; Sound Recordings; Sandemar; 22nd May 2012














Recordings here of Marsh Warbler, all of the same individual singing at night. A quite incredible mimic, an amazing bird to listen to. I got within three metres of this bird in the darkness, so fantastic recordings these. The last one here is perhaps my favourite recording to date..


Thrush Nightingale singing at night; Sound Recordings; Sandemar; 22nd May 2012

















Recording here of one of the most beautiful songs in Sweden. Thrush Nightingales here, singing at night. Very happy with these recordings..

Redwing; Sound Recording of Song; Sandemar; 22nd May 2012

Common Snipe and Lapwing calling at night; Sound Recordings at Sandemar; 22nd May 2012


















Recordings here made in the middle of the night by Lapwing and Snipe...

Sound Recordings; Sandemar; Dawn on 22nd May 2012





















All recordings here were recorded at Sandemar around dawn on 22nd May 2012, a full acccount of this recording session below. Nice to get Common Rosefinch just after dawn, a species I had wanted to record, as was Tree Pipit...


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Night Singing Birds; An outing to sound record nocturnal species; Sandemar; 22nd May 2012

 My first outing of it's type with the telinga parabol, the aim, to record some night singing bird species. I arrived at Sandemat at 23.40pm and initially sat and listened, allowing my eyes to adjust to the dark, having assembled the parabol in the carpark by torchlight. Out of the darkness came the liquid tones of Thrush Nightingales, three birds singing out in the darkness. I had no difficulty moving around in the dark and a while later I was getting into position beside the singers....
 Thrush Nightingales sing from dense cover and you can often get quite close without seeing the bird in daylight hours, too close though and the bird will often move position. Not so in the dark it seems, the birds allowing close approach to within a few metres and soon I had superb recordings of two individual birds at close quarters. It quickly dawned on me that recording at night had huge advantages, namely no traffic, no planes overhead, no people making noise, not even other birds to a degree!Whilst recording the nightingales there was little else to be heard in the background, just the occasional distant Lapwing, until another, much more welcome species was picked up, Tawny Owl. In the background, two birds could plainly be heard with the aid of the parabol, though not with the naked ear. So, the telinga proves it's worth again as a finder of birds with a yeartick. There was, however, another nightsinger picked up after a while..
 Eventually I moved on and closed in on another sought after yeartick, Marsh Warbler. The bird was singing intensively from an old reedbed from the previous year. Again, I was able to approach to within a few metres without any problem. I recorded the bird several times, the bird's mimicry leaving me absolutely gobsmacked. Species after species was mimicked, at times it was difficult to believe there was no Common Tern flying past, or Common Rosefinch singing close by, such was the accuracy of this remarkable songster. Common Rosefinch, Common Tern, Willow Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Starling, Wood Sandpiper, White Wagtail were among the species the bird had integrated into it's song. A stunnning mimic, which often varied it's song as I listened over 30 minutes, the notes crystal clear through the sennheiser headphones...
 Then on to Hoggarn, where I sat and listened for a while. Lapwing were active in the pitch dark and I recorded the birds before a roding Woodcock passed over. It took a while to work out the birds pattern of flight, though after a while it was clear the bird was following a flight pattern and eventually I secured a decent recording. Then through to the bird observation tower where Common Snipe were displaying. Several attempts later I had recorded these birds to my satisfaction just as the first indications of light began to appear, with that another tatrget species began to sing, Redwing. Three birds began intermitently at first, though eventually they were in full song and good recordings were made...
 As the light began to increase there were suddenly birds everywhere. Garden Warbler was a species I wanted to record and I spent some time getting the recordings I wanted. By now so many species were singing it was hard to isolate a good, clear soundbite without other species crashing the recording, a pair of vocal Crane, Lesser Whitethroat, Tree Pipit and raucous Greylag Goeese being the loudest of all.Many species have now returned to Sweden and this was a seriously wide ranging dawn chorus! Eventually the racket was deafening, at least seven Thrush Nightingale now booming from cover, Marsh Warbler still going, Crane trumpeting and Lapwing displaying. An incredible nights birding, all in darkness. I'll be doing this again....
 Recordings to follow, after sound editing, which takes a while...



Monday, May 21, 2012

Angarn; 21st May 2012

 Greylag Geese with brood...




 Greylag goslings...




 Garganey pair to the front, Gadwall to the rear...




 Skylark










 Above; Three images of a cracking cock Wheatear at Midsommarberget...










Above; Three images of grey headed Yellow Wagtail, at least eight pairs at the site this morning...


Arrived at Angarn just after 6am, a glorious morning too. An Osprey and Black Woodpecker were the first highlights of the day. The reserve has much vegetation and it was difficult to see birds. A singing Garden Warbler gave good views on my way through Örsta, I wished I'd brought the telinga as I would of got a lovely recording. 11 Whooper Swan then flew past calling noisily, whilst on the water was a single Slavonian Grebe among the Goldeneye. At Midsommarberget I located a Garganey pair with a pair of Gadwall close by. Reed Warbler and Sedge Warbler were displaying in numbers, though after straining to hear I eventually managed to decipher a Great Reed Warblers steady song from the reedbeds, singing sporadically.
 Onwards the to Lundbydiket where a pair of Little Ringed Plover were nesting. Yellow Wagtail were everywhere and I was photographing these when I carelessly flushed a Temminck's Stint from under my feet! The bird called twice as it flew to the reserve and dissapeared. I spent a few more hours checking the snipe an watching for raptors without a great deal of success, before heading home...


Hjälstaviken; 16th May 2012

 Meadow Pipit




 Little Gulls; An adult and sub adult bird over the open water...




Greylag Goose


Another trip to Hjälsta in the afternoon, arrived to a choir of Skylark, Willow Warbler and a couple of Pied flycatchers. I headed for the tower where a Bittern was booming from the reeds to the northwest. Over the lake were 5 Little Gulls. Yellow Wagtails were everywhere, whilst a male Garganey flew past. At least 80 Common Crane drew my attention and I spent a few minutes sketching them. Then a call went up from a birder beside me and soon a harrier came into view to the north. After close scrutiny it was revealed to be another Pallid Harrier, a second calender male and my second of the week! Ir sayed in view for five minuted, though later I would have a second view at 16.30. Despite searching carefully there was no sign of the two White-winged black Terns seen earlier in the morning, a real pity. A calling Cuckoo was my first of the year as I headed home...



Monday, May 14, 2012

Great Grey Owl; Ekolosund Slott; 14th May 2012




































Great Grey Owl shots from Hjälstaviken today, where two birds were present today. An incredible experience, this bird was totally fearless and a dream to photograph. The birds have been present for weeks now at the Slott, it took me a while to catch up on them. Awesome birds....



Great Grey Owl; Ekolosund Slott; 14th May 2012







































More shots of Great Grey Owl from Hjälstaviken today...

Hjälstaviken; 14th May 2012; An evening with Hobbies and a lifer...





















Arrived in mid afternoon at Hjälstaviken, first port of call was Ekolsund Slott where I had simply stunning views of two Great Grey Owls at almost point blank range at times, the photos above here in time. After that it was down to Stora Parnassen where I settled down on a rock overlooking the wetland. Almost immediately I had a pair of Garganey in front of me, then a falcon came in of the marsh towards me, a superb Hobby, which perched in a tree beside me. It stayed with me for quite a while and I had amazing views of this dapper bird as it rested in the light rain. A pair of Marsh Harrier, then an adult Little Gull out over some open water. Wood Sandpipers were everywhere, their calls filling the air. Eventually I made my way to WWF Spängen, across the walkway through the reedbeds, where Reed Warblers were in full song. A while later I had the Savi's Warbler reeling in the reeds in front of me! The rain stopped and I was able to set up the Telinga parabol and get a nice recording of the singing Savi's, then backtracking to record Reed Warblers. I then made my way to a blackthorn bush where my first Thrush Nightingale of the year was belting out the decibels, also recorded. After that it was Hobbies. Four birds were feeding in the shelter of the hillside behing me, jusy over the reedbed hawking insects. I spent an hour watching them feed, a quite incredible sight. I wandered back towards the walkway and from behind me came a bird of prey, a harrier. I got the binoculars onto it and the first thing I took in where four fingered primaries, a neat gorget of streaks and a rather long, narrow tail. The bird then turned and I got the head pattern, a noticable boa and dark inner secondaries. I realised I was watching my first Pallid Harrier, an adult female. Rather than grab the camera I enjoyed my first view of the species, taking in the small, tidy postage stamp white rump. This was at 7.32pm, I was to have a second view at 8.30pm as the bird reappeared and I got a better view of the upperparts, which had a broad light area of sandy brown on the covert's. The vent was clean and unstreaked and the dark secondaries on the underwing emphasized the barred primaries on the underwing. This bird had been reported in the morning at the other end of the reserve and I really had not expected it to stay around, yet here I was watching it go to roost in the reeds. Memorable.
 It then began to rain, a little too heavily, I had to pack down the parabol. I began to get wet and was forced to abandon plans to sit out into darkness and listen for Great Snipe and Spotted Crake. I may have to return on Wednesday...

Recordings made today here...
















Friday, May 11, 2012

Steller's Eider; Fieldsketches









Fieldsketches here of the 2nd calender Steller's Eider from Landsort...

Hjälstaviken; 9th May 2012

 Yellow Wagtail




 Little Gulls




 Incubating Lapwing; Biro sketch




Wood Sandpiper; Biro sketch






Here a recording of a Wood Sandpiper flushed whilst recording a few days previously on Lansort, see below,,,

A day out at Hjälsta was seriously hampered by rain, often heavy showers with just brief respite. Arrived at the tower around 3pm. to the only prolonged dry spell of the day. Yellow Wagtails and Wood Sandpipers were everywhere! Over the lake my first Swifts of the year were feeding, among Swallow and House Martin. It wasn't long before I picked up my first target species, a 2nd calender Little Gull, followed by several adults in summer garb. A while later the other, a cracking adult summer Black Tern. I spent a while there looking for other species, Crane, Shoveler, Garganey all evetnually seen...
 Rain returned and I headed south, putting up Wood Sandpiper constatntly, as well as two Ruff. On the to Ekolsunds Slott where I spent three drenched hours searching in vain for the long staying Great Grey Owl. The back to Spängen where I had 4 Sedge Warbler singing before approaching the end of the walkway, there in the reeds the unmisstakeable reeling of Savi' Warbler! Only my secong ever and a swedish first! I did not see the bird before heading off, totally soaked. A tough day but worth the effort...