Birdwatch, June - July 2017

The summer months were intensely hot. By June 12th there was very little about. On a trip to the pond that morning I found that the biggest area was about to evaporate later that day– there was a tiny little pool with the remaining fish all gasping. Equally I saw a Cormorant, probably stocking up with an easy source of food.

Scops Owl Scops Owl Photo: Steve Jones

There had been an influx of Alpine Swifts during those days, also a Cuckoo still calling near the pond 300-400 metres away.

Pond dried up. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

As I’m sure most of you know the longest day marks the sign of change in nature’s calendar and the singing for territory and mate virtually ceases. Nightingale were one of the first to disappear: from my observations this year I would suggest there were reasonable numbers of Nightingales singing in “my patch”. Sadly despite numerous attempts, I have still yet to photograph one.

Eugenie, Will and Steve by the pond. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

On July 15th, two keen bird-watchers, Will* and Eugenie, joined myself and Vivian for an early-morning tour of some bird-watching sites in our part of Hvar Island. They particularly wanted to see the Bee-eaters, so I had sent them a photograph I had taken on July 8th and warned them that good pictures might be hard to take on a single trip: "[Bee-eaters] don’t like you getting too close and also at the moment the sun is so bright difficult to get a really decent shot at this location. I’m also of the opinion they disperse to different locations in the day. Are you familiar with the call of Bee-eater? I can sometimes hear them over my garden in the afternoons but often quite high up when I come to look. So you might be lucky enough to hear them where you are staying....If you can get to Jelsa, although nothing is guaranteed, I should think we can knock off Bee-Eaters and Red Backed Shrike for you. Hoopoe are a little more difficult as are Woodchat Shrikes now, I’ve only seen two Hoopoe in the last month and both in flight whilst driving, and they have stopped calling now like most." (email July 9th 2017).

Turtle Dove, July 8th 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

I also sent through a picture of a Turtle Dove, taken on July 8th, as they are a fairly rare sight in the UK now. The response was pleasingly enthusiastic: "Love those bird shots you took Steve. It's true, Turtle Doves are so rare these days in the UK it'll be lovely to see them." The words of true bird-lovers!

Bee-eaters, July 8th 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

We started our quest in Pitve, moving on to the pond in the Stari Grad Plain, and then to Jelsa.

Steve, Eugenie, Will in Pitve, July 15th 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

We were rewarded with more sightings than I expected, including an unknown wader at the pond. In Jelsa the Bee-eaters were happily swooping over their favourite nesting area.

Will watching the Bee-eaters, July 15th 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

It was a great start to Will and Eugenie's brief weekend visit, which was followed up by them spotting the elusive Golden Oriole near their accommodation.

Golden Oriole, July 17th 2017. Photo: Will Rose

Without doubt the highlight of my summer was being able to catch the Scops Owl in daylight, I just happened to pick up a contact call. Before, I had managed several shots at dusk, when it was coming to the power cables outside my house every evening, but the pictures were poor. On July 13th, I had a Scops on wire outside my house during the day, sadly it was off as soon as it saw me, I would have loved a daytime picture.

Scops Owl at night, June 17th 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

Then, on July 18th: done it! Albeit early in the morning (5:15am) as opposed to dusk where it would perch on my electric cable every night.

Scops Owl, early morning July 18th 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

And then over the next couple of days came the real daytime shots. So I was delighted with these. Then I had some doubts as to whether it really was a Scops Owl, as reading about their behaviour Scops is apparently a true night owl, whereas the Little Owl (Sivi ćuk) can also be seen in the day, which I know from seeing them in the UK. Their calls are similar. However, a knowledgeable friend from the UK confirmed that in his opinion it was a Scops – they do have two forms, grey and brown.

Scops Owl July 20th 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

Despite frequent visits to the pond and the airfield throughout the summer it remained very quiet and nothing new was observed. Perhaps you too noticed that numbers of Swallows were slowly building up on cables towards the latter part of July: on July 20th I counted 56 Swallow lined up on a power cable on my way back from Stari Grad ……was it a daytime roost or were they getting ready to go perhaps…?? and I believe the first weekend of August saw a lot move on. This doesn’t mean you won’t see a Swallow after that, but they are seen in smaller groups, as are Swifts and House Martins. Similarly Bee-eaters mainly went in August but I was still hearing them passing overhead as late as 13th September.

Just-fledged Red-backed Shrike, July 27th 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

Photographed in and around Dol during the latter part of July, a just fledged Red Backed Shrike still being fed by parents. I was still seeing these birds around, mainly in single numbers, into mid September.

Red-backed Shrike feeding, July 27th 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

© Steve Jones, 2017

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

*Will Rose is an animator and illustrator, mainly for children's programmes, and he uses his interest in wildlife in his professional work: http://wilbojonson.tumblr.com/, and https://vimeo.com/170155454

You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch, June - July 2017

Eco Environment News feeds

  • A conference marked by squabbling and deferral yielded little progress despite protests

    Governments at the UN climate talks in Madrid responded to the growing urgency of the crisis with a partial admission that carbon-cutting targets are too weak, but few concrete plans to strengthen them in line with the Paris agreement.

    Two weeks of talks ended on Sunday afternoon with a formal recognition of the need to bridge the gap between greenhouse gas targets set in 2015 in Paris and scientific advice that says much deeper cuts are needed. Current targets would put the world on track for 3C of warming, which scientists say would ravage coastal cities and destroy agriculture over swathes of the globe.

    Continue reading...

  • Unsavoury flavour may explain why certain species do not flee from predators, scientist says

    It might seem like they are being lazy but some moths do not bother to flee from predators because they make themselves taste disgusting.

    That is the case for a certain species of tiger moth, which researchers have found displays a nonchalant approach when faced with potential predators, on account of its disgusting flavour.

    Continue reading...

  • The spread of electrical lighting is blocking out the stars and threatens the health of many species … including humans. Now our national parks plan to take back the night

    NOAA-20 probably has the best view of the North York Moors, even though it’s 512 miles away. In one sweep – on a clear night – the weather satellite can see the whole national park, from the forests in the south near Scarborough to the heather-covered moorland just south-east of Middlesbrough.

    When Richard Darn walks these hills – on a clear night – he can’t quite make out NOAA-20 as it scurries from pole to pole because the skyglow from Middlesbrough pollutes the darkness. Yet down in the southern forests, the night sky is pristine and ideal for satellite spotting. Places with truly dark skies like this are shrinking. In the areas where you can see why the ancients decided that a group of stars looked like a great bear, or scorpion, or Orion the hunter, the faintest dots of the constellations are being drowned in skyglow, or winked out by a brash neon sign or stray security light.

    Continue reading...

  • Charity finds one in five won’t re-wear new outfits, despite spending average of £73.90 each

    Britons are poised to spend £2.4bn on new outfits for the Christmasparty season this year – yet many items may be worn fewer than three times – a survey shows.

    After shelling out an average of £73.90 per person on partywear for the festive period, one in five people admit they won’t wear the same outfit to more than one party or event, according to the study from environmental charity Hubbub.

    Continue reading...

  • Martijn Wilder says more companies are talking about the climate crisis but not moving quickly enough – and his new firm Pollination aims to improve that

    A growing number of governments, including of every Australian state, Britain and the European Union, have set targets of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. Few have mapped how to get there.

    It is a similar story in the corporate sector. Businesses are under increasing pressure from investors and shareholders to back up claims they are committed to the goals of the Paris agreement. Take BHP, one of the world’s 20 big emitters: it has set a mid-century net-zero emissions target but is yet explain how it will reach it, and plans to invest more in oil and gas than climate solutions.

    Continue reading...

  • Tougher limits on pollutants could cut dangers of heart disease, cancers and poor brain development in children

    The UK’s failure to meet World Health Organisation standards limiting the amount of ultra-fine particles in the air represents a major danger to health that is only now being recognised, experts claim.

    Studies published this year link the particles to cancers, lung and heart disease, adverse effects on foetal development, and poor lung and brain development in children. They are considered a key threat to health because they go deep into the lungs and then reach other organs, including the brain. But European standards allow the levels of particles in the air to be 2.5 times higher than those stipulated by the WHO.

    Continue reading...

  • Brazil, India and China singled out in UN talks as acting to block agreement on article 6 of Paris agreement

    Poor countries have accused a handful of richer nations of holding up progress on tackling the climate crisis at UN talks in Madrid, as demonstrators and activists vented their frustration in the final hours of two weeks of negotiations.

    The talks, which had been due to end on Friday, dragged on with negotiators still battling on Saturday to salvage a result, as governments wrangled over the details of a seemingly arcane issue: carbon markets, governed by a provision of the 2015 Paris agreement known as article 6.

    Continue reading...

  • Helped by volunteers, Trees for Life planted nearly 2m native trees on its Scottish projects. It wants to plant millions more

    The bracken-clad hills are marked “Dundreggan forest” on the map but this Scottish glen is mostly stark Highland scenery: open, beautiful, and almost totally devoid of trees.

    On a steep-sided little gully, 40 years ago, a few baby silver birches escaped relentless browsing by red deer and grew tall. Now, the nearby path through the bracken is dusted with thousands of brown specks: birch seeds.

    Continue reading...

  • Destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest in November more than doubled the same period last year

    Deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon jumped to the highest level for the month of November since record-keeping began in 2015, according to preliminary government data published.

    Destruction of the world’s largest tropical rainforest totalled 563 square kms in November, which is more than double the area in the same month last year, according to the country’s space research agency INPE on Friday.

    Continue reading...

  • The pick of the best flora and fauna photos from around the world, from an illuminated giraffe to an elusive southern elephant seal

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds