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

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hällogårn; Västerbotten; 27th July 2012

Up at dawn, which up this far north is just after 3am.! As I got out there came the trumpeting of Common Cranes from over the trees on the mainland, a wonderful backdrop. I made my way to the north end of the island, which is rather small. As always, the Arctic Tern Colony was active, at least 34 young fledged at the northern end of the island, a quick count revealed. Common Gulls also bred well, though there were no Velvet Scoter broods in evidence this morning, the species usually an obvious breeder here...
A couple of Wood Sandpipers were welcome, before three young Common Sandpiper were noticed. A sudden burst of activity put me on to a superb female Hen Harrier, which flew southeast over the colony, nice! Then there were superb views of a pair of White Tailed Eagle offshore being mobbed by terns and gulls. Velvet Scoters were moving offshore in small numbers, whilst a few Eider, Goosander and Cormorant were also picked up. Tufted Duck and Red breasted Merganser had young offshore, whilst 17 Lapwing were then noted moving south over the mainland. Overhead a curious call got my full attention, as I had heard it yesterday evening overhead. After a short period I located the source high up above me, 2 Red Throated Divers, perhaps a pair, or maybe disputing, territorial males. I have brought my recording equipment and will try to record this interesting call, which was new to me. A sort while later other calls, Common Crossbill and Green Sandpiper. All this in a few hours after first light, quality birding in incredible environment...
In due course I will return to Stockholm and upload artwork and photos of birds seen, for the next week I will keep up to date, blogging from the iPhone..

Monday, July 23, 2012

Skeppsbron; 23rd July 2012

 Pristine; Argentatus Herring Gull as fresh as it gets...one of five birds present in its age group...




 The same bird chasing Rice Crispies....




 And again, a male bird perhaps and rather dominant...




 A 2nd Calender Argentaus...




 And another 2nd Calnder, this time of year the mid primaries are dropped, new inners, old outers.




 A 3rd calender bird currently dominant onsite, a brute of a bird. The new birds staking their claim and yet to learn their place. This taken at close range, with Nikkor 50mm.




 A 2nd Calender LBBG, been about a while. Neutral light today excellent fot gull photos..




 They come close, eat out of your hand, Baltic LBBG at 50mm...




 Dominant adlut Baltic LBBG giving it socks..




 And some more..




 Above and below; Probable intermedius 3rd calender showed well today, the adult bird less well..









 A new arrival, another 2nd calender plus type LBBG, not so showy, made a brief appearance...





2nd Calender Argentatus Herring Gull...


 Above and below; 1st Calender Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull..a stunning fresh juvenile...




Todays exploits from Skeppsbron, impending rain saw good numbers of gulls, neutral light made for good shots....



Sunday, July 22, 2012

Red footed Falcon; 2nd Calender Female; Berga Ängar; 22nd July 2012



 A stunning bird this, masked and salmon flushed. A very distinctive bird perched and in flight...




 A rather pale overall appearance, mask around eyes, apricot flusd underparts and heavily barred undertail make female Red Foot's easily identified...




 Uncannily, whilst perched, the bird often recalled Red Backed Shrike due to the masked appearance and salmon flushed breast. This simularity was quicly banished when the bird took to flight however..




 The bird coming in to land at it's favourite perch. The bird is actively moulting it's flight feathers, the inner secondaries and primaries missing. A little scruffy looking in the air perhaps, but still very quick in the air, recalling Hobby in flight, being much quicker in the air than Kestrel...




 Small billed and rather rounded head in profile. The upperparts were largely slate grey, though the upperwing covert's were old, retained feathers..




 A few more shots of the bird, note the feet which are not yet deep red, a hint as to the birds age. The real giveaway were the birds retained upperwing covert's and rather pale forehead..




Made the trip to Berga Ängar, Sorunda, in order to catch up with a Red Footed Falcon which has been in the area for some days now, I have bben working everydsy and unable to move sooner. Soon after arriving on site I had the bird in the distance, hovering and dashing about. I moved in quickly and located it siiting on a telegraph post, a favoured perch. It was unconcerned by my presence and gave me cracking views as it hunted insects, preened itself and generally sat around. I sat within 50 metres of the bird for a couple of hours before heading off, getting some decent photos and making a few shetches. I have not seen many female birds in the past, so this was welcome, only my second time seeing the species here is Sweden....

VIDEO FOOTAGE HERE;
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlo23yZ3J4Y&list=UUUWm0gG93nKzlG2XotE1F3A&index=1&feature=plcp


Friday, July 20, 2012

Graelsii/Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull; Near Adult; Skeppsholm; 20th July 2012

Note here the pale appearance on the upperparts, markedly paler than the surrounding Baltic LBBG. Also noticable was the slightly deeper, heavier bill...




Here in flight on the upperwing there is a marked contrast between the base mid grey tones of the upper wing and the darker primary tips. Notable is the dark primary covert's which tell us this is not a full adult, perhaps in it's fourth year. Thus. this bird is likely to be a wandering non breedier. The tail appears rather worn here also...




A nice shot of the bird on the deck here....

Shots here of a cracking adult Graelsii/Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull from Skeppsbron today, where two birds were present, the other a 3rd calender bird, see below.
 I would err towards this bird, indeed, also the third calender at the site, as being of the race intermedius, based on the moult on the inner primaries, graellsii often showing more advanced moult. Along with the first calender discussed below and another candidate aldo in the area, it seems there are three or four birds in the area at the momement!

Graelsii/Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull; 3rd Calender; Skeppsholm; 20th July 2012

A rahter pale bird here in direct contrast with Baltic LBBG. Note the dark centred tertials also and white tipped primaries on the closed wing..




A cracking bird this...




Note the dark on the tail here in flight. Also here the state of moult is obvious, three new inner primaries are visible. Thr primary covert's are dark marked...

Shots here of a Graelsii/Intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gull, a 3rd Calender bird. It was in fact one of two birds present today!

Lesser Black-backed Gull; A First Calender Intermedius?; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 20th July 2012

On the water here, an apparent LBBG, first seen at the site a few days ago- Note the small head and bill, dark feather centres on the upperparts with warm toned fringes and closely patterned flanks...




If flight here, note the large looking pale inner window on the primaries. which should appear dark on a Baltic LBBG, leading to the suspicion of a young intermedius perhaps? Other features are in line with a first calender LBBG, especially the dark marking on the underwing covert's and the tail pattern, a solid dark band with white tipped tail feathers. The greater covert's are also rather dark centred...




A nice shot of the bird on the deck, looking like a classic, young LBBG. Note the short bill, flanks, darke centred feathers on the upperparts and tertial pattern. The thighs look rather short. 

Images here of a bird which caused some confusion, due to the inner primary window in flight appearing rather pale. This leads me to the assumption that this could be a posible intermedius LBBG, not unlikely with other birds in the area at the momement. An interesting individual nonetheless, bearing more than a passing resemblence to a 1st calender Yellow-legged Gull! Features are discussed above in the captions, thanks to those who have commented on this birds appearance elsewhere...

Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull; 1st Calender; Skeppsbron; 20th July 2012

Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull; 2nd Calender; 20th July 2012















Shots here of a second clender Lesser Black-backed Gull from Skeppsbron.


Herring Gulls; Skeppsbron; 20th July 2012

 A 1st calender bird, one of two present at the site today in spanking fresh plumage..












Three images above; All are 2nd Calender Argentatus from the site today, the predominent age group at the site right now...

A few shots here today of Herring Gull from Skeppsbron today...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lesser Black-backed Gull; A sub adult at Skeppsbron; 16th July 2012




Here are shot of a sub adult Lesser Black-backed Gull which looked a shade paler than the other adults at the site. Is this a fuscus or intermedius? It was difficult to say, though the bird showed no obvious wing moult and therefore probably a sub adult Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull. The primaries are tipped with white, the upperparts slightly brownins toned and the dark markings on the bill tell us this is not a full adult bird. Hopefully this bird will stay in the area and I can get some better hots in the near future...

Adult Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gulls; Skeppsbron; 16th July 2012

Long winged in flight with a single small white mirror on P10, very dark upperparts, as well as a small head and bill, make up the classic features of adult  Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gull...






Nice detail here of the wingtip...



Shots here of adult Baltic Lesser Black-backed Gulls in flight form Skeppsbron earlier this afternoon, the light was superb today. At least 18 birds present today...