Birdwatch, February 2017

Steve Jones' bird sightings in February 2017. Happily, gaps are being filled!

Great Tit: more in evidence a year ago. Great Tit: more in evidence a year ago. Photo: Ian Kirk

I have been really pleased with my February sightings as birds I would have expected to see over the Winter have appeared, and I hadn’t seen them last year, the cold spell no doubt responsible. Admittedly I went out pretty much every day in February this year, whereas looking at my notes from last year it was seemingly every two to three days. The days have been a bit warmer and the birds were beginning to take on a bit more colour, with some starting to sing as the breeding season approached.

My garden Chaffinches which come to the feeder were quite active now, but apart from Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Blackcap and occasional Black Redstart there wasn’t much else. Last year I was seeing good numbers of Blue Tits and Great Tits. This year I have been hearing the Great Tit, but the Blue Tit and the Wren have been very scarce. The Blackbirds which were so prominent in January had largely moved on in the early part of February.

On February 1st a male Hen Harrier flew right in front of me whilst I was driving into Stari Grad. I saw it a few times in January, but only twice in February, the second time almost at the end of the month on February 27th.

Redwing with a Fieldfare, February 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

February 2nd brings another first – Redwing, not a very good picture but it shows the difference in size between the Fieldfare and the Redwing.

February 4th: feeding on the Vrbanj airfield there were in excess of 100 Fieldfares and Mistle Thrushes.

Then on February 7th I saw my first Pheasant, although I had been hearing them before this.

Cirl bunting, February 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

February 9th: I was out for just an hour in the morning, and concluded that the Fieldfares had moved on. It's interesting what a difference a couple of days can make. Blackcaps were very active. I tried to get a decent picture of them, but they were too flighty. I was hoping to show how the male and female have different coloured "caps", but alas that was not to be at the moment. I heard my first Cirl Bunting of the year singing (22nd in 2016), staking its territory. This bird is an all year round resident and very pretty as you can see from the picture.

There were also two very bedraggled looking Starlings. At first I thought I was mistaken, not having seen them here before, and to make matters worse the battery had run out on my camera. But once I got my binoculars on them it was clear as to what they were.

Starlings lined up. Photo: Steve Jones

On the evening of the 10th I heard my first Eagle Owl of the year, quite close to my house in Dol.

11th February brought me two new species for the year, the Rock Dove and, for the first time on the island, the Wigeon. Keeping an eye on bird movements in migration, I noted that some of the Cuckoos had started moving from their African wintering grounds. Hopefully heading our way! They should arrive in the United Kingdom by about the third week of April.

Wigeon, February 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

February 14th brings me another first for the island – Lapwing. Initially I saw 4 birds on the Vrbanj airfield,  but later in the month I saw them again: 2 on the 17th, 10 on the 20th and 1 on the 22nd.

Lapwing, February 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

February 22nd brings another two species to add to the year list. A solitary Raven which flew off in the Brač direction before I could get the camera out to photograph it. I didn’t see any last year, but heard one with a friend who also recognised it. Then there was a Pied Wagtail, rather late, as it was a bird I had been expecting to see in January.

Chaffinch visiting the Cafe Splendid in Jelsa. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

By far the most common bird on the island during February was the Chaffinch. Far too many for me to count but it seemed to me as the month was coming towards the end that several flocks had flown onwards to their breeding grounds. Many were feeding at my bird tables - I counted 14 at a time towards the end of the month, and they were starting to sing more noticeably. There were also large numbers of hooded crows. Buzzards were still in evidence, but not in such great numbers as in January and early February.

Almond blossom 'confetti', February 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

Well, February left us with blossom beginning to show on trees, more Red Admirals and Brimstone butterflies on the wing. There were birds starting to sing as they set up their territories. While more birds will be leaving us in this early spring phase, we should start to see the arrival of the summer migrants in March.

Almond blossom with bee. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

SUMMARY OF BIRDS SEEN DURING FEBRUARY 2017

© Steve Jones 2017

Lead photo of Great Tit by Ian Kirk from Broadstone, Dorset, UK (Great Tit  Uploaded by tm) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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

You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch, February 2017

Eco Environment News feeds

  • ‘Shocking’ study reveals plastic contaminates our skies as well as the oceans, say scientists

    Microplastic can escape from polluted waters via flying insects, new research has revealed, contaminating new environments and threatening birds and other creatures that eat the insects.

    Scientists fed microplastics to mosquito larvae, which live in water, but found that the particles remained inside the animals as they transformed into flying adults. Other recent research found that half of the mayfly and caddisfly larvae in rivers in Wales contained microplastics.

    Continue reading...

  • Initiative lays out practical steps we can all take to help halt destruction of species and habitats in Britain

    Replanting hedgerows, including birdboxes on all new-build homes, rewilding uplands and an end to seal culling: these are among demands of the People’s Manifesto for Wildlife, a new initiative aimed at halting the drastic decline in British wildlife.

    The manifesto has been drawn up by the naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, with the aid of 17 independent experts and scientists. They warned that people are sleepwalking into an “ecological apocalypse”, but said everyone could take practical steps themselves, and campaign for broader measures that could yet avert the wholesale destruction of species and habitats.

    Continue reading...

  • Plenty of sunshine is needed to bring out the intense reds and yellows from the leaves, and this year we’re set for a dazzling display

    Autumn colour is perhaps the most striking of nature’s seasonal displays, but the vividness of the annual spectacle is largely dependent on good environmental conditions. This year, following a fine summer and with an Indian summer predicted, we look to be on course for a dazzling display that could trump recent years and extend well into November.

    Shorter daylight hours and colder nights are what trigger leaf drop – or senescence – but frost, like rain, can damage leaves and cause early leaf fall. Plenty of sunshine is needed to encourage concentrations of colour pigments which help to intensify leaf colour.

    Continue reading...

  • Hot weather and conservation drive help once-extinct insect make dramatic comeback

    A previously extinct butterfly, the large blue, has enjoyed its best UK summer on record thanks to the lovely weather and a determined conservation effort on hills in the West Country of England.

    The large blue, a popular specimen among Victorian collectors, was declared extinct in Britain in the 1970sbut has since made a dramatic comeback.

    Continue reading...

  • Risk in over-50s increases by 40% where highest nitrogen oxide levels exist, study shows

    Air pollution may increase the chance of developing dementia, a study has suggested, in fresh evidence that the health of people of all ages is at risk from breathing dirty air.

    People over 50 in areas with the highest levels of nitrogen oxide in the air showed a 40% greater risk of developing dementia than those with the least NOx pollution, according to the research, based on data from London.

    Continue reading...

  • Newly found documents from the 1980s show that fossil fuel companies privately predicted the global damage that would be caused by their products.

    One day in 1961, an American economist named Daniel Ellsberg stumbled across a piece of paper with apocalyptic implications. Ellsberg, who was advising the US government on its secret nuclear war plans, had discovered a document that contained an official estimate of the death toll in a preemptive “first strike” on China and the Soviet Union: 300 million in those countries, and double that globally.

    Ellsberg was troubled that such a plan existed; years later, he tried to leak the details of nuclear annihilation to the public. Although his attempt failed, Ellsberg would become famous instead for leaking what came to be known as the Pentagon Papers – the US government’s secret history of its military intervention in Vietnam.

    Continue reading...

  • BMW, Daimler, VW, Audi and Porsche suspected of colluding to limit clean technology

    Brussels has launched an anti-trust investigation into whether BMW, Daimler, Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche, known as the “circle of five”, colluded to limit the development of clean emission technology.

    The German car manufacturers are suspected of agreeing not to compete against each other in the roll-out of anti-pollution systems for petrol and diesel passenger cars.

    Continue reading...

  • Invaders continue to seize land within the Chaparrí ecological reserve, one of Peru’s most biodiverse forests

    Shortly after sunset, along an isolated stretch of highway leading out of a dusty hamlet in northern Peru, a band of five weary farmers clad in reflective neon vests and armed with traditional whips made of bull penises set out on a solemn march.

    The Ronderos – self-governing peasant patrols – are resuming their nightly rounds five months after the brutal killing of their lieutenant governor, Napoléon Tarrillo Astonitas.

    Continue reading...

  • On a planet of billions, nine represent the strong minority battling murder in the global corruption of land rights

    Individually, they are stories of courage and tragedy. Together, they tell a tale of a natural world under ever more violent assault.

    The portraits in this series are of nine people who are risking their lives to defend the land and environment in some of the planet’s most remote or conflict-riven regions.

    Continue reading...

  • Nearly two years after the signing of a historic peace agreement, violence in the country continues

    Enrique Fernández cannot remember the last night he slept peacefully.

    He is tall and heavyset, and does not look like someone who scares easily, but as he sits in his humble rented home in western Colombia, his eyes dart nervously from left to right, scanning for any threat.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds