Hvar's birds declining?

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Are Hvar's bird numbers dwindling?

When we first moved to our house in Šiberija in 2004, we were delighted to discover a family of little owls nesting in the garden,and every evening at dusk we were treated to the antics of the young ones learning to fly.  They were as curious about us as we were about them and they would sit on low branches watching us in between their circuits of the garden.  Sadly they never returned to nest here and it is several years now since we have even heard one.  We do of course hear the Scops owls and the occasional tawny owl but not as often or as close by as we used to.

Other not infrequent visitors were hoopoes, golden orioles, blackcaps, shrikes, turtle-doves and nightingales (which several years running used to take up residence in a bush near our house and sing almost non-stop for 48 hours - I went off nightingales a bit at that point!).  We also used to hear cuckoos and nightjars in the fields beyond the old Hvar Road but it is several years now since we have heard either so close by.  We have also missed the regular calling of hoopoes and golden orioles in the distance.  There seems to have been a marked decline in the flocks of bee-eaters which used to burble about above us so much, but we were really pleased to see and hear about half-a-dozen near Mlin above the harbour yesterday.  Still nothing like the large numbers we were used to though.

We do have a blackbird nesting somewhere nearby and he sings regularly from our garden but it is sad that there don't seem to be many competitors nearby - we used to enjoy the singing duels in the evenings.  Sparrows too are fewer in number and therefore less noisy than they used to be in the tree outside our bedroom window, which at 5.00am is no bad thing to us although it is all part of a worrying trend.

We had assumed that all the recent building activity in and around Stari Grad was probably responsible for disturbing habitats and wildlife in general.  However, more worrying is the probability that the use of glyphosate-based herbicides has played a large role in their destruction.

Alison Bujić, Stari Grad, 22nd April 2016 by e-mail

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