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 20, 2015

Tyresta National Park; 19th January 2015



A really tough day birding around Tyresta today, the reason for going was to film Dipper among the falls at Nyfors. Quite incredibly, none were present. This was very unusual as the birds are present all year round at this site and late winter sees a paean in numbers, indeed, up to a dozen were recorded here about ten days ago. Why they were not present I do not know, though I will try again in a few weeks.
 The darkness of the weather was also a little tough today, there was generally very little around. The best was a group of 11 Hawfinch seen early one at a known site for the species. Apart from that it was common species all day, with my first Greenfinches of the year among other regular species. I decided to shoot some video footage in the area and put together a small video on my return home, which you can view here. Alas, it is without the expected Dippers!




Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Winters raptors at Hjälstaviken; 14th January 2015

 A stunning adult Rough-legged Buzzard, always a welcome sight in late winter..


 A digiscoped shot of the upperparts..


Pity it is not entirely in frame here, nevertheless a useful shot with regard to analysis of the plumage. The markings are quite exquisite on this particular individual. Note the solid, dark trailing edge to the primaries and secondaries, prescribing an adult. Other details, such as the distinctive tail pattern, dark undercarriage and dark iris help identify this bird as an adult male, a bird which i saw just a fe weeks ago in the same area...

A day spent at Hjälstaviken today in search of winter Raptors proved well worth the journey, as the intermittent sunshine, the first in some time, saw much activity in the skies over the reserve. I arrived just before 11am and immediately was frustrated. After a distant view of a Rough-legged Buzzard in the west I got onto an eagle all to briefly as it dropped from the skies and disappeared behind the distant treeline. Despite the distance I was quit sure this was a Golden Eagle, probably an older bird, though it just got away from me before I was completely sure. Despite scanning the area intently for the following hour the bird was not seen again and I had to let it go.
 Despite that, the day was quite excellent, with superb numbers of White -tailed Eagle in the area, at least three adults, two second calenders and three immatures at least. My first Common Buzzards of the year were welcome, at least three birds picked up to the west, along with my first Sparrowhawk of the year, probably an adult female. In addition there was a second calendar Goshawk, a little distant, though unmistakable. The order of the day were Rough-legged Buzzard though and I had two adult birds and a single second calendar. Again, it was the adult male above that stole the show and gave me incredible views as it quartered the northern end of the reserve. There was a stiff breeze today, though it proved bitterly cold for me, it proved perfect for the hunting Rough-legged Buzzard. The bird spent hours in the air hovering and hunting, facing into the wind. I spent a lot of time enjoying this bird today, a very nice experience...
 Other birds included Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Common Crosbill and Common Redpoll...

Depite the strong wing and the range, I managed some decent record video of the bird for posterity..


Monday, January 05, 2015

Water Rail; Råstasjön; 5th January 2014











































Headed for Råstasjön this morning, intent on getting a few shots of Water Rail. The site is superb for the species in winter, after the freeze has occurred. On arrival, I immediately picked up a bird close by the path, feeding intently. The bird was totally unafraid and remained in the open for long periods, allowing some of my best shots of the species. It was a wonderful experience and I was dumbfounded when the bird first approached me as I was lying on the ground and began to peck at my fingers! the bird returned to do this a few times and I quickly realised that the bird is being fed by visitors and has become accustomed to receiving handouts. At least three birds were present in the area, though this one was a total star and was a great subject to test the Panasonic GH4 and Panasonic 45-175mm lens combo. The result were pretty good and I was quite happy with the stills.
Other birds at the site included Goshawk, Common Crossbill, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Siskin, Redpoll and Waxwing.



Argentatus Herring Gulls; Skeppsbron, 5th January 2014

 A rather dark adult Argentatus Herring Gull picked up late afternoon today, which really did stand out due to a very dark overall upperpart tone.


 The dark bird can clearly be seen at the rear of this group, strikingly darker than the nearby 4th calendar plus bird..

 A flight shot of this darker individual showing the primary details....


 A near adult type Argentatus Herring Gull here, probably best put down as 4th calendar plus due to the extensive markings on the bill...

 3rd Calender/2nd Winter


  3rd Calender/2nd Winter


  3rd Calender/2nd Winter


  3rd Calender/2nd Winter


  3rd Calender/2nd Winter


2nd Calendar/1st Winter. A bird at the darker end of the spectrum, which  though worthy of a record shot..

Photos here of several Argentatus Herring Gulls from the local patch at skeppsbron today, a quick check revealing nothing odd. I did manage to photograph a rather dark Herring Gull that has been in the area for a while now...

Monday, December 22, 2014

Argentatus Herring Gull in December

 2nd Calendar year/2nd winter plumage.


 Yound birds are rather variable. Note there the dark bill of the bird to the rear.


 A rather dark 1st calendar bird here. Such individuals are not uncommon at all.


 Birds feeding on food left out by visiting people who often feed these birds at the site..


2nd Calendar Year/2nd winter

Photo's and video here of Argentatus Herring Gull from Skeppsbron today. Around 110 birds were present, though as always it is hard to gauge how many birds are around as they are coming and going all the time. All images were taken with the Panasonic Gh4, which will prove to be a major boon for gull watching I think.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rough-legged Buzzard; Hjälstaviken; December 2014

 An adult male Rough legged Buzzard, a cracking bird which gave me breathtaking views today. The photos are terrible due to the dark light, though here on the underwing the solid dark trailing edge to the wing can just be seen here. The inner primaries and secondaries were very clean wite and lacked much barring. The tail was that of a classic male, with a dark subterminal band.



Note the rather well marked undercarriage and generally very dark appearance.

The day was spent at Hjälstaviken today as a result of some good raptor observations in the area over the past few weeks. There was a lot of cloud forecast, though full days off are at a premium right now and I decided to go anyhow, despite the feeling that birds of prey might not be very mobile in overcast conditions. I arrived at around 09.30am and immediatly picked up a large raptor perched in a low tree on the north section of the lake. It proved not to be the Golden Eagle I had very much hoped for, though it was in fact a very nice White Tailed Eagle, an adult bird. It was obscure and did not allow a close approach before moving off. As it moved away I glanced to my left and clocked a buzzard sitting in a spruce tree not far from my position. The bird sat tight and allowed me to get some images and video footage and proved to be a lovely adult male bird. I watched it for around thirty minutes before it moved off. Despite the terrible light it gave stunning scope views that were surely the best I have ever had of this enigmatic species.
 Onwards towards Hårby, where I had two mor Rough-legged Buzzard, though both of these birds were very distant. I scanned to distant pines for lager birds, locating two adult White Tailed Eagle for my trouble, as well as a distant Great Grey shrike. to the west I had a Hen Harrier quartering the meadows at Vaster Til, even at range the bird was identifiable a a female type Hen Harrier. Things were going well at this point, though that would change as it began to snow quite heavily and the visibility dropped dramatically. It was nice to be out in the open country more the first snow of the year, though I was quite sure the weather would see most birds sit tight, particularly birds of prey and it was tough going from this point onwards, with no let up in the weather. A Green woodpecker was closely followed by a Black Woodpecker, whilst 21 migrating Whooper Swans made a nice sight as the winged their way southwest over my head. There were no geese at the site, the lake already being frozen over. small birds were at a premium, with just Yellowhammer, Bullfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, a single Wren, Blackbird, Fieldfare and a small group of Goldfinch note. Winter has truly arrived. In the end, my hopes of Golden Eagle did not materialise, though the views of Rough legged Buzzard alone made the trip worthwhile.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Fieldfare Sketches








Been a while once I did any drawing from life, these Fieldfares were drawn today from my kitchen window. there are twenty or so of these birds present at a time feeding on berries out the back garden and it took me being housebound due to the sore throat and chest to get around to looking at them properly. The birds have been present for some days now and generally are most noticeable ay first light when they can be heard calling. They make good subjects to draw as they often spend time at rest, when they stay reasonably still. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Grey Heron; Rästasjön; 19th November 2014


















A selection of digiscoped efforts from today, the herons work well in black and white for me. though the light was excellent today...


A day out around Rästasjön saw me start at the Larch tree where the Two-barred Crossbill have been feeding, though on arrival it was quiet. A pair of Goshawks were a welcome distraction and I watched them chasing each other through the woods, an adult male seemingly being harassed by a huge juvenile female, quite possibly one go his own young. I narrowly missed a great phot opportunity before the birds departed, dropping off their perches like stones and melting into the woodland.
 A few minutes later the trumpeting of a Two-barred Crossbill was heard as a single female bird flew in and spent just a few minutes in the area, feeding briefly before laving the are. I decided to move on and bgan my walk around the lass at Rästasjön, lots of Coot, Mallard and 14 Gadwall were quickly noted. In the centre of the lake there were still 7 Great Crested Grebe present, whilst a brief view of a Water Rail was nice at the usual site for the species. i was disappointed to find the bird feeding station not yet in operation, though i had nice views of some Coal Tits there. Onwards around the lake and there was little of note, so I spent some time digiscoping the local Grey Herons, which were showing well in wonderful light.
 After leaving the lake I returned to the Larch tree without success, but there was a bonus on the way back to the train station. i picked up the call of Waxwing from the road and after ten minutes pottering around i tracked the birds to a couple of apple trees in a suburban garden. The birds were feeding on the far side of the tree for the most part, thug I did manage some nice video footage of these wonderful birds. One bird struck a window close by, though happily it recovered after a short time, a little dazed, but none the worse for the experience. Also feeding on the apples were Fieldfare, Blackbirds and a pair of Jay. all in all a very nice few hours out in the first day of good light in a couple of weeks...
Here is a lovely bit of video I shot today, the light was golden and the birds were showing really well in the trees on a small island in the east of the lake...

Click on settings to watch in HD...

Two-barred Crossbills; Lötsjön; 18th November 2014















Images of female Two-barred Crossbill, wonderful birds, brimming with character...

Two-barred Crossbill are always a bit special. The news that birds were frequenting a Larch tree in Solna saw me make the trip to Lötsjön in the hope reacquainting myself with the species and perhaps getting some decent photos and perhaps footage of some adult females.
 On arrival the birds were not present, though it did not take long for some Common Crossbills to fly past, though they seemed flighty and did not settle. This was probably due to attention from a Goshawk the previous afternoon! Eventually, after thirty minutes or so, i picked up the distinctive trumpeting call of Two-barred Crossbill. Soon, seven birds appeared in the tops of the nearby pines, a couple of males among them, all of them calling constantly. They seemed nervous, though three females did come down and begin to feed in the Larch, whilst the other birds flew off to the west. I figured there was a strong possibility these birds were frequenting the local graveyard to the west where several birds took up residence a couple of years ago. I decided to concentrate on the females in front of me and managed to get some great views as the birds gained confidence. once again, as i watched these birds, I was struck by just how parrot like they are in their behaviour,using their bills to climb around the branches! Despite the rather poor light I managed some reasonable digiscoped photos and some nice video footage, which i will post at the bottom of the text here. I spent a couple of hours watching the birds before the last of the light went and I headed off.

Click on settings on the video toolbar to select HD