Birdwatch, May 2017

Published in Nature Watch

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

  • Exclusive: major supplier to brands including KFC and Nando’s used offshore companies allowing them to reduce UK tax payments, investigation suggests

    The global megacompanies supplying some of Britain’s most popular meat brands, including KFC, Nando’s chicken and Sainsbury’s organic range, appear to have been using offshore companies that allow them to avoid paying millions of pounds in tax in the UK.

    An investigation by the Guardian and Lighthouse Reports has found that two companies – Anglo Beef Processors UK and Pilgrim’s Pride Corporation (owned by Brazilian beef giant JBS) – appear to have reduced their tax bill by structuring their companies and loans in a way that allows them to take advantage of different tax systems, in what one expert has described as “aggressive tax avoidance”.

    Continue reading...

  • Nature protection rules in proposed investment zones would in effect be suspended

    There was little room for doubt about the reaction to the prime minister’s plans to scrap environmental regulations this weekend. “Make no mistake, we are angry. This government has today launched an attack on nature,” tweeted the RSPB, its most forceful political intervention in recent memory.

    Liz Truss’s proposals to create investment zones, where green rules on nature protection would in effect be suspended, represented a step too far for some of Britain’s biggest environment charities. “As of today, from Cornwall to Cumbria, Norfolk to Nottingham, wildlife is facing one of the greatest threats it’s faced in decades,” the RSPB went on.

    Continue reading...

  • Prominent members of farmers’ union express dismay after comments by Minette Batters

    Farmers are threatening to quit the National Farmers’ Union after its leader said she supported the UK government’s apparent move to scrap post-Brexit nature subsidies.

    This weekend, the Observer revealed that the government was poised to abandon the “Brexit bonus”, which would have paid farmers and landowners to enhance nature, in what wildlife groups have described as an “all-out attack” on the environment.

    Continue reading...

  • Stars of film about 500-mile trek to Scotland for Cop26 hit the road again for Bristol premiere

    There will be no red carpet, no designer outfits and definitely no limousines. In fact, the stars of the film have shunned any sort of mechanical transport and instead walked 135 miles from London to Bristol for the premiere, and are asking their audience to accompany them by foot on their last leg before the screening.

    The film, which is being premiered on the harbourside in Bristol on Tuesday evening, is Of Walking on Thin Ice (Camino to Cop26), which tells the story of a group of climate pilgrims who hiked 500 miles from the south of England to Scotland for last year’s climate conference in Glasgow.

    For more details and tickets visit the Encounters film festival website.

    Continue reading...

  • Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire:It feels like sitting in a crypt – I am surrounded by the skeletons of dried perennials

    I try not to make excuses so I’m just going to tell the truth: everything in my garden is dead. The drought was fierce and I was sick, distracted. I couldn’t bear to look at it but I’m trying to look now.

    It feels like sitting in a crypt. I’ve pulled up a damp chair and I am surrounded by skeletons, the limbs of my perennials dried, bent and snapped. The hydrangea’s flowers have turned to ghostly brown lace too soon, drooping leaves turned almost black like prayer flags. There is copper, rust and blood; piles of viburnum leaves dropped early in fright. The penstemon looks as if it has been set alight then frozen, its orange flames still and hellish. When the rains finally came, too late, the parched snails came out of hiding and ate everything that was left. Talk about overkill.

    Continue reading...

  • Movement aims to make the mass damage and destruction of ecosystems a prosecutable, international crime against peace

    California winemaker Julia Jackson has long grasped the threats posed by the ongoing global climate change crisis, from more intense wildfires and hurricanes to rising sea levels. But for her, those ideas crossed over from the abstract to the tangible when her home was razed by the Kincade wildfire that devastated her native Sonoma county in 2019.

    “I lost everything – all my belongings,” Jackson said. “It shook me to my core.”

    Continue reading...

  • The deaths within days of 11 sturgeon, a species unchanged for thousands of years, have puzzled scientists

    When the first spindly, armour-clad carcass was spotted in the fast-flowing Nechako River in early September, Nikolaus Gantner and two colleagues scrambled out on a jet boat, braving strong currents to investigate the grim discovery.

    Days later, the remains of 10 others were spotted floating along a 100km stretch of the river in western Canada.

    Continue reading...

  • Defra accused of ‘all-out attack’ on environment by wildlife groups

    The government is to scrap the “Brexit bonus” which would have paid farmers and landowners to enhance nature, in what wildlife groups are calling an “all-out attack” on the environment, the Observer can reveal.

    Instead, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) sources disclosed, they are considering paying landowners a yearly set sum for each acre of land they own, which would be similar to the much-maligned EU basic payments scheme of the common agricultural policy.

    Continue reading...

  • Super Typhoon Noru tore its way out of the northern Philippines on Monday, leaving casualties, floods and power outages. Government work and classes at schools have been suspended in the capital and beyond

    Continue reading...

  • David Malpass apologises after saying he ‘doesn’t know’ if he accepts climate science

    David Malpass, president of the World Bank, faces an uncertain future this week, after the White House joined a chorus of influential figures in condemning his apparent climate denialism.

    Malpass remains in post for now but under severe pressure, despite issuing an apology and trying to explain his refusal last week to publicly acknowledge the human role in the climate crisis.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds