Birdwatch, May 2017

After a brief absence from the island, Steve Jones caught up with the bird activities in May. Lots of early-summer action going on!

Purple heron Purple heron Photo: Steve Jones

Well, I came back from the UK on 7th May, and there were audible signs of new arrivals, most notably the Golden Oriole. Whilst in the UK I was told the Bee-Eaters arrived in Pitve on 3rd May. Last year my first sighting of both Bee-Eater and Cuckoo was 10th April.

Bee-eaters. Photo: Steve Jones

In fact from the house on 7th I heard Golden Oriole, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackcap, Cirl Bunting and Cuckoo.

Black-headed bunting. Photo: Steve Jones

8th May, This was my first day back at the pond and, being car-less I did a 14km cycle in the morning, starting out just after 0700hrs. There were plenty of Bee-eaters, I counted 52 on my travels in two areas. Also that morning there was a Turtle Dove (they had been just arriving during the third week of April), and I saw Corn Bunting, Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper, Red Backed and Woodchat Shrike.

Red-backed Shrike. Photo: Steve Jones

 I've been seeing more woodchat than red-backed shrikes this year.

Woodchat Shrike. Photo: Steve Jones

A special treat was a very pleasing new arrival for the Island, my first sighting here of a Spoonbill.

Spoonbill. Photo: Steve Jones

10th May brought in another new wader for the count - Dunlin

Dunlin. Photo: Steve Jones

I was surprised to see a solitary Starling in Mid May, a bird I was expecting to see more of. They made their first appearance in early February, stayed for a short while and then moved on. I was seeing all the usual species every day, but 13th May brought in a Whitethroat. I saw one last year in Split but this was a first for me on the island. Then I saw my first dragonflies on the wing on 14th May.

18th May: I was out at 5am this morning, trying to photograph some Bee-Eaters from two sandbanks, but saw nothing. Clearly they are not roosting there, and yet I have seen groups of up to 50 flying about. Maybe later in the day is the right time to see them. However, I did see a Little Ringed Plover, which I also saw last month, and this time I managed to get a decent photograph of it.

Little ringed plover, May 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

Going out every day to the same place I was seeing nothing new until the 19th May, when I got three new species: Spotted Flycatcher, Black Headed Bunting and a new one for me on the Island – Purple Heron. (On 18th April I had made a note to myself that I might have seen this, but the sighting was all too brief, so I sort of dismissed it). Anyhow the Purple Heron, which was about for two or three days, brought the count for the year to just over 80, so I was very pleased with that.

Continuing to go the pond not far from the airfield every day, I have been seeing a lot of Woodchat Shrike this year, seemingly far more than in previous years. Waders seemed to be hitting the pond most days, never in great numbers, but some two or three were appearing most days up to 28th. There was a Black-Headed Bunting calling nearby and several Linnets about. Unfortunately a decent picture of the Linnet escapes me.

Cuckoo. Photo: Steve Jones

30th May. I have kept varying my times going out just in case it might bring different species, but it hasn't made too much difference. The Nightingale is hardly singing at all now, and with only three weeks to longest day that will signal the end. I’m not into finding nests with young, but I have seen evidence of birds feeding their young. I suspect the last of the waders have moved from the pond, as I have not seen anything in three days now. Blackbirds are singing again as are Blackcaps. A couple of Corn Buntings were singing again this morning, and I've been hearing the Black Headed Bunting periodically.

Finally, 30th May saw me a get a reasonable picture of a Cuckoo at last, still some distance away, but for those of you who have heard but not seen them, this is for you.

With the few new species spotted this month, there are 83 in total now for the year so far.  There are also a couple I haven’t mentioned in writing, as I couldn't get decent enough photographs to highlight them. They tend to be a bit nondescript. The Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler for example, and the Spanish Sparrow is another one which is difficult to pick out.

I have a potential new wader which I photographed a week ago, but I am not entirely convinced that it is different from the Little Stint which is already on the list. When these birds are only 18cm high and you are seeing them from a distance, plus they are just coming into breeding plumage, it makes ID ( for me) difficult. But everything I have listed I am 100% happy with.

© Steve Jones, 2017

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

Postscript: a female cuckoo made its presence known with its unusual call on May 20th, just behind my house in Pitve, and again for three days after that. I haven't heard her since, so I presume she concluded her sneaky egg-swapping business and then flew off to pastures new! VG June 12th 2017.

You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch, May 2017

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Extinction Rebellion protesters want a carbon-free UK by 2025. But can the financial and political hurdles be overcome?

    It is the near future. You wake in a house warmed by a heat pump that extracts energy from deep below the ground and delivers it to your home. (Your gas boiler was outlawed years ago.) You rise and make yourself a cup of tea – from water boiled on a hydrogen-burning kitchen stove. Then you head to work – in a robot-driven electric car directed by central control network to avoid traffic jams.

    At midday, you pause for lunch: a sandwich made of meat grown in a laboratory. At the end of the day, you are taken home by a robot car – through countryside festooned with solar panels and turbines.

    Continue reading...

  • The wardens of Britain’s small islands talk about daily life with little more than thousands of puffins for company. By Patrick Barkham. Photographs by Alex Ingram

    After supper, while Eddie Stubbings was washing up, huge flocks of puffins would come whirling past his kitchen window. Later, when the sun had finally dipped into the ocean, the Skomer night filled with the bizarre caterwauling of 350,000 pairs of manx shearwaters, which fly under the cover of darkness to burrows dotted across the small island.

    “Living on the island was absolutely amazing,” says Stubbings, 40. Alongside his partner, Bee Bueche, 41, he has completed six years working on Skomer, 720 acres of seabird-populated rocks off the Pembrokeshire coast.

    Continue reading...

  • Group’s ongoing peaceful disruption in London is gaining it global attention and new members

    On Monday morning a strange sight appeared, edging its way through the buses, taxis and shoppers on Oxford Street in London.

    A bright pink boat, named Berta Cáceres after the murdered Honduran environmental activist, was being pulled carefully through the traffic, eventually coming to a halt in the middle of one of London’s busiest thoroughfares.

    Continue reading...

  • An orchestra, a village, an entire country: the movement to rein in greenhouse gas emissions is growing

    We are all doomed, it is said. Carbon dioxide is amassing in the atmosphere at levels not seen for millions of years when there were trees at the South Pole and Florida was under water. We have barely a decade to make amends. Protesters are on the streets.

    But huge numbers of people have not given up. Not yet. Call them the carbon cutters. They are companies and cities, niche groups and nations. They are commuters and communes, off-gridders and off-setters, investors and institutions – and countless individuals, cutting their meat intake, installing solar panels, eschewing gas guzzlers and long-haul flights.

    Continue reading...

  • Fears for wildlife after fierce predators apparently discovered in Yorkshire

    Late on Monday night, a reporter at the Doncaster Free Press received an unusual phone call. A piranha, one of the world’s fiercest predators normally found stalking the waters of the Amazon basin, had apparently been discovered in a lake in Doncaster.

    There were dramatic rumours of ducks being massacred and other wildlife being torn to shreds by the razor-toothed fish in the freezing waters of Martinwells Lake.

    Continue reading...

  • Nation known for its natural beauty is under pressure with extinctions, polluted rivers and blighted lakes

    A report on the state of New Zealand’s environment has painted a bleak picture of catastrophic biodiversity loss, polluted waterways and the destructive rise of the dairy industry and urban sprawl.

    Environment Aotearoais the first major environmental report in four years, and was compiled using data from Statistics New Zealand and the environment ministry.

    Continue reading...

  • Financial sector warned it risks losses from extreme weather and its stakes in polluting firms

    The global financial system faces an existential threat from climate change and must take urgent steps to reform, the governors of the Bank of England and France’s central bank have warned, writing in the Guardian.

    In an article published in the Guardian on Wednesday aimed at the international financial community, Mark Carney, the Bank’s governor, and François Villeroy de Galhau, the governor of the Banque de France, said financial regulators, banks and insurers around the world had to “raise the bar” to avoid catastrophe.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists, including a descendant of Charles Darwin, are researching the birds’ preference for Berlin

    They were once among Britain’s most beloved singers, their “murmurs musical” giving melancholy poets solace in their darkest hours. But these days the world-famous warblers are more likely to be found jamming with jazz musicians in neglected Berlin parks than serenading Londoners in Berkeley Square. Some even claim that their latest outpourings feature elements of German techno.

    Luscinia megarhynchos, the common nightingale, has been shunning the UK since the 1960s, during which time the population has slumped by 90%. The number of birds in Berlin, however, is on the rise. According to cautious estimates by the city senate, the German capital’s nightingale population grew by 6% every year from 2006 to 2016: “a very high rate”, said Johannes Schwarz, a species conservation officer, who puts the current number of nesting pairs at between 1,300 and 1,700.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists say a drastic cut in meat consumption is needed, but this requires political will

    It has been known for a while that the amount of animal products being eaten is bad for both the welfare of animals and the environment. People cannot consume 12.9bn eggs in the UK each year without breaking a few.

    But the extent of the damage, and the amount by which people need to cut back, is now becoming clearer. On Wednesday, the Lancet medical journal published a study that calls for dramatic changes to food production and the human diet, in order to avoid “catastrophic damage to the planet”.

    Continue reading...

  • The continent’s largest land mammal plays crucial role in spiritual lives of the tribes

    On 5,000 hectares of unploughed prairie in north-eastern Montana, hundreds of wild bison roam once again. But this herd is not in a national park or a protected sanctuary – they are on tribal lands. Belonging to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the 340 bison is the largest conservation herd in the ongoing bison restoration efforts by North America’s Indigenous people.

    The bison – or as Native Americans call them, buffalo – are not just “sustenance,” according to Leroy Little Bear, a professor at the University of Lethbridge and a leader in the bison restoration efforts with the Blood Tribe. The continent’s largest land mammal plays a major role in the spiritual and cultural lives of numerous Native American tribes, an “integrated relationship,” he said.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds