Birds and Insects Autumn-Winter 2015

Published in Nature Watch

Reports from Dol, many thanks Steve!

Kestrel, Jelsa Kestrel, Jelsa Photo: Michael Southall

My bird watching sadly has been rather limited this year, the intention is to make more detailed notes in 2016 - or just wishful thinking.

I had a friend came over in September for a week and I think he listed 29 species in that time excluding Bee-eaters which had gone by then. Saw my last Swift on 27th October, two months later than we would have in the UK. My friend specialises in Moths and set up a couple of traps in my garden for a week. He was delighted with the quantity and species. Probably about 200 different species which I have pictures of - unfortunately I am not knowledgeable enough to identify any.

Humming-bird hawk moth.

The humming-bird hawk moth is spectacular in flight, and safely inconspicuous when at rest.

Humming-bird hawkmoth. Photo Michael Southall

I erected a bird table about three months ago and was rather disappointed by the lack of interest in it. However in the last three weeks it has been a source of food for about 10 Blue Tits / some Great Tits and a Robin.  There clearly is enough natural food for several other species.

Blue-tit at the bird table. Photo Steve Jones

Blackcaps are feeding on pomegranate tree nearby, the occasional Wren pops into the garden and numerous Chaffinch feed off the ground in a neighbours field. Sova Usara calls regularly but seeing it is a little more difficult although some super views in August on an old ruin next door. Saw a male and female Cirl Bunting on some Blackberry bushes nearby on Monday/Tuesday this week.

Last week was seeing Black Redstart/Redstart ( I thought Redstart but two friends think Black Redstart so we will go with them - it is a female and they are both pretty similar). It sort of makes sense as I was positive I saw a male on roof briefly the other week.

Redstart. Photo Steve Jones

I had two or three trips to the airfield in the summer/late summer and found a few species there. Managed to get a reasonable picture of a young Golden Plover which was a surprise to me. Having seen them in flocks on Dartmoor in the Winter, I have never seen one solitary bird. I also saw Yellow Wagtails. There was a solitary Heron at the small pond near the airport, but I was expecting more, as it is the only source of water I know of. Blue Rock Thrush nested nearby which solved a problem I had had for a while, I was familiar with the call over several years, but hadn't managed to tie it up to the bird until now. Also Nightjars were heard most evenings.

Olive picking yielded an unexpected treasure

A great find whilst picking Olives: this caterpillar, which I estimate to be about 10cm long X 1cm wide, later becomes the deathshead hawkmoth ( I didn't know that, but am reliably informed - a fantastic sight and so well camouflaged).

Deathshead Hawkmoth caterpillar. Photo Steve Jones

I will endeavour to detail more next year - you mentioned hearing a Cuckoo on April 24th, which is interesting, as that is around the same time that they reach Dartmoor. There has been an interesting project in the UK for the past 3 years now, involving radio tagging cuckoos to track their progress and whereabouts. Really fascinating. I am wondering whether or not they actually breed here, or just pass through. And what is their host bird if they breed here?

Steve, Dol, December 19th 2015

I have been a bit disappointed by the lack of birds in the winter, I was expecting far more, but pleased my bird table is attracting some of the more common speicies. Did see four Buzzards conveniently perched on four pylons on my way into Stari Grad this morning.

Steve, Dol, December 23rd 2015

I went off bird watching early Xmas morning  - over to the airfield and the pond nearby.

Pied wagtail, December 25th 2015. Photo Steve Jones

Saw the usual Heron and 2 Pied Wagtail.

Heron, 28th December 2015. Photo Steve Jones

Saw several flocks of Chaffinch in trees (overnight roosts perhaps) between there and Stari Grad. Up to 60 or so on one tree and a couple of instances of similar driving back to Dol.

Flock of goldfinch in flight. Photo Steve Jones

Another pair of Cirl Buntings down near the electricity sub-station at Stari Grad. Several Buzzards but all too distant to get decent pictures. I have noticed Great Tits in the last two days are actually calling now.

Steve, Dol, December 27th 2015

For more of Steve's beautiful nature pictures, see his personal pages: Bird Pictures on Hvar 2017, and Butterflies of Hvar

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