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 Chaffinches 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 might be 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 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 someone's pet!

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


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