February Nature Watch, 2016

Steve reports from Dol - he feels there should be more to see!

Common brimstone butterfly Common brimstone butterfly Charles J Sharp

Another disappointing month in terms of species numbers. The birds continue to flock to the feeder in waves. Nothing for an hour and then all seem to descend and up to 20 of mainly the three species, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch feeding from the ground.

Eurasian sparrowhawk. Photo by Targetman

3rd Feb: Sparrowhawk flew over the garden……….. an obvious sign to look up when the birds around disappear and go quiet.

6th Feb: On the Vrbanj road a flock of 25-30 Hooded Crows. Great Tits were calling far more frequently now.

12th Feb: a huge flock of Chaffinch coming back from Stari Grad towards Dol, I should think in excess of 100. As I was driving I suspect there could have been other species amongst them but as is often the case no suitable place to pull in.

13th Feb: Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and first time of seeing Black Redstart this year (or actual confirmation)

Buzzard. Photo by Aviceda

14th Feb: Weather really quite mild and saw a female Egyptian Grasshopper and several butterflies on the wing. Red Admiral is pretty well all year round but saw some “whites” in flight.

Egyptian grasshopper. Photo by Alvesgaspar

About 19:00 noticed several frogs on the road coming back to Dol, can only presume weather conditions had brought this on, not noticed any since.

17th Feb: Blackbird singing (see video below or click here)

19th Feb: Blackcap singing & saw my first Brimstone butterfly although my friend had seen one several days before but was unsure of the species.

20th Feb: Male Black Redstart in the garden and around some nearby ruins.

21st Feb: My first Painted Lady (Butterfly)

22nd Feb: Cirl Bunting on the road near Stari Grad airfield.

Cirl bunting. Photo by Paco Gomez
Cirl bunting. Photo by Paco Gomez

25th Feb: Opposite Konzum in a tree in Jelsa  - 25-30 birds some singing. Went back to the car to fetch binoculars predominantly Chaffinch which I could identify but amongst them were some Goldfinch and the thing that drew my attention initially were some Serin singing. Before I managed to get a picture they disappeared.

29th Feb: was in Split and saw my first Black Headed Gull in “summer plumage” or at least I am assuming it was a Black Headed Gull and nothing else but no binoculars to confirm. For those of you who don’t know, these birds lose the Black Head in the Winter.

As the weather has been relatively mild I had been expecting more migrant birds coming in towards the latter days of February but nothing that I have seen. I have heard reports of the odd Swallow arriving in February but perhaps the weather has held them back.

In the UK I generally accept the arrival of Spring as the Chiff Chaff return, on or about March 10th. So let’s hope in March there is more to report.

© Steve Jones 2016

Footnote from Steve March 23rd 2016:

Just back from the UK, I heard my first Chiff Chaff here in Dol today, I usually associate that with the first of the migrants in the UK (heard a couple last week over there, would have expected them earlier here but clearly not). Now I am back I will concentrate my efforts in the next two months. I have heard that Swallows have been seen in Dol last week.

it is interesting that one night at a hotel in Dover I counted twice as many species in 10 minutes while walking to get a paper than I have seen here all Winter.

I keep wondering am I missing something or perhaps not going to the right locations, however I will carry on.

Comment from Vivian Grisogono of Eco Hvar:

I am (sadly) of the opinion that all the herbicide spraying is responsible for the lack of birds, not to mention the definite dramatic decline in bats - almost to nothing last year. Ground feeders have no chance when the earth is dowsed in poison, not to mention what happens to the insects and micro-organisms which healthy earth depends on?

Herbicides in the Ager, March 2016 - no chance for birds, insects.... Photo: Izo Gračić

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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