Birdwatch, March 2017

An active month for Steve Jones. An unexpected turtle appears, and interesting birds are coming and going on Hvar!

Turtle Turtle Photo: Steve Jones

Steve reports from Dol:

March has proved to be far more fruitful than I was expecting going on last year's notes. Migrants seem to be arriving earlier. There were also several “firsts” for the island, that I have seen. This does not mean they haven‘t visited before, just that it's the first time I've seen them. I am guessing that some of these were passing on through, as a couple I have only glimpsed briefly, but also, fortunately, I have managed to photograph them.

Blue rock thrush. Photo: Steve Jones

If you are on Hvar, you will have noticed the birds singing, particularly as we hit the end of March. Around my house as I worked outside I was hearing Great Tit, Blackcap, Cirl Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush. I have also seen Blackbirds carrying food, so they were clearly feeding their young.

On to my sightings for the month, early March proved as expected: the odd Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and Starlings were still around. I thought I saw a Song Thrush but all too quickly I’m afraid, and I don’t like to add any bird to my list of sightings unless I am 100% certain. On 3rd March I had superb views of the Hen Harrier in flight but that was the last time I saw it.

On 9th March I saw a Sandpiper of some kind – this was a first for me, and after scanning through the books and getting confirmation from a couple of friends, I am pleased to say it was, as I thought, a Green Sandpiper. I was expecting it to move on quickly, as the indications are they breed far further north, so I was pleasantly surprised to see this sandpiper numerous times during the month, even as late as 30th March.

Green sandpiper. Photo: Steve Jones

Also on March 9th I saw a Turtle doing a bit of sun bathing. As with the Green Sandpiper it wouldn’t let me get too close before submerging, but I did manage to come up with a picture or two! I’m not 100% sure on the ID but as far as I can tell it is the “Yellow Bellied Slider”. My guess is this was a pet at some point that has been deposited in the pond.*(see footnote)

On the same day I managed a very brief glimpse of a Stonechat, but as I have not seen one since, I suspect this may have been passing through. On March 10th I saw a Sardinian Warbler, once again a puzzle. I’m not sure whether or not this was passing through, I have suspected they may over-winter on Hvar, albeit in very small numbers. On 11th March I saw my first Wheatear, no time for a photograph at the time, but I managed several shots towards the end of the month.

Hoopoe. Photo: Steve Jones

On 19th March I went to Humac early just to see if there was anything different calling that I am not hearing on my patch, but in fairness I was pretty disappointed. There were numerous Chaffinchws singing, the odd Great Tit and a solitary Robin. So back down to the airfield vicinity and my first Corn Bunting of the year, also a Heron and two Grey Wagtails. Just as I was leaving at 09:30, I spotted my first Swallow of the year flying over the pond. The Green Sandpiper was still there, as well as the striped turtle / terrapin. (Some of the species I am picking up here are also being sighted in the UK now – such as Sand Martin, Cuckoo, Swallow).

20th March: Great Tits calling all over the place, but I haven't managed to take a decent photo of any. In the morning I thought I heard a Nightingale. It was only singing intermittently, which mightb e a sign that it had just arrived.

On 22nd March I thought I heard the Blue Rock Thrush. I didn’t see one at all last year, so I was not 100% sure but as the month progressed i heard it again, whether another or possibly the same one calling very near my house, especially on March 31st, when he was very obliging!

Also on 22nd March I saw a male Reed Bunting, not quite in full breeding plumage. Once again I suspect it was just passing through, as it was another first for me on the Island. I also heard a Greenfinch in Dol on the same day.

On 26th March I heard and saw a Sub Alpine Warbler, a bird which so far has escaped the camera. As they are territorial I picked up the call again on most mornings from the same location, and hopefully I will get a picture worth publishing some time.

Yellow wagtail. Photo: Steve Jones

27th March – without any doubt my best day bird watching since being here. I had seen all of the birds here before, but to get them all in one morning! I was very very pleased. My first Kestrel of the year, followed by Sub Alpine Warbler, Corn Bunting, Green Sandpiper, Serin, Yellow Wagtail and to cap it off as I was driving towards Stari Grad a Hoopoe right in front of the car.

Hoopoe. Photo: Steve Jones

On 30th March I saw an Alpine Swift. They were here last year, so they were not a new species for me, but nevertheless I was rather pleased to have seen it before a normal Swift.

If anyone is seeing anything else here please do let me know via the Eco Hvar contact email. I am particularly sticking to two areas only, so of course I don’t think for a second I am picking up everything on the island.

Finally, a selection of pictures taken in March: Greenfinch, Stonechat, Heron, Cirl Bunting (female), Reed Bunting and finally Wheatear.

March birds, selection. Photos: Steve Jones

FIRST SIGHTINGS IN MARCH BRING THE TOTAL FOR THE YEAR SO FAR TO 53

First sightings in March 2017

© Steve Jones, 2017

* Footnote from Eco Hvar. Turtles are native to Hvar, although they are rarely seen, so this one may have been wild rather than a pet!

 

 

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