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

  • Activists spend seven days occupying BP rig in Cromarty Firth, leading to 14 arrests

    Greenpeace has ended its protest against BP drilling for oil in the North Sea by handing in “people’s climate injunctions” at the company’s headquarters.

    Greenpeace protesters spent nearly seven days occupying an oil rig rented by BP in the Cromarty Firth in northern Scotland last week, leading to the arrests of 14 activists, including three photographers hired by the pressure group.

    Continue reading...

  • Concern grow over ammonia particles from fertiliser and bioaerosol from intensive farms

    We think of the countryside as being a place of fresh air. Each weekend thousands of us leave our cities to hike or cycle in rural areas or simply to enjoy time in nature. Increasing attention is being given, however, to air pollution from farming. Ammonia from fertiliser and slurry mixes with air pollution from cities, traffic and industry to add to the particle pollution that plagues many parts of the world. It is estimated that halving ammonia from farming could avoid about 52,000 premature deaths from air pollution across Europe each year and 3,000 in the UK.

    Increasing attention is also being paid to bioaerosol from intensive farming. In animal houses these are tiny particles and dust from the animals themselves, their food, bedding and waste. They can also include fungi, bacteria and pollen. A recent review by Imperial College and Public Health England found evidence of respiratory problems in farm workers and raised concerns about exposure for people living close to intensive livestock farms, including some evidence of increased asthma in children. Bioaerosol concerns mean that composting facilities need to be at least 250 metres from UK homes and schools, but farms can be nearer and only require assessment if they are closer than 100 metres.

    Continue reading...

  • Event will take place on 22 September across 18 boroughs, with road closures and events

    Sadiq Khan has announced plans to implement London’s biggest car-free day to date, closing 12.3 miles (20km) of roads in the centre of the capital in September.

    Roads will be closed for the event around London Bridge, Tower Bridge and much of the City of London to help tackle the capital’s air pollution crisis, which kills thousands of people each year and leaves two million – including 400,000 children – living in areas with illegally dirty air.

    Continue reading...

  • MELTDOWN – a visualisation of climate change has opened at Natural History Museum of Vienna. Created by the climate crisis charity Project Pressure, the exhibition on vanishing glaciers uses art to inspire action and behavioural change. Unlike wildfires, flooding and other weather events, the retreat of the world’s glaciers can be attributed to global warming. To incite action, Project Pressure has created a carbon footprint calculator in collaboration with ClimateHero to learn how carbon-intense the users’ lifestyle is.

    Continue reading...

  • MPs launch assembly plan but environmental activists say its conclusions must be binding

    A citizens’ assembly on the climate emergency will take place this autumn to explore the fastest and fairest ways to end the UK’s carbon emissions.

    Six House of Commons select committees announced the assembly on Thursday. It is the second of the three demands made by the Extinction Rebellion protest group to be addressed.

    Continue reading...

  • There are only about 30 north Pacific right whales left after hunters nearly wiped out the slow-moving animals

    Marine biologists for the first time have recorded singing by one of the rarest whales on the planet, the north Pacific right whale.

    Researchers at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) used moored acoustic recorders to capture repeated patterns of calls made by male north Pacific right whales.

    Continue reading...

  • Ice losses indicate ‘devastating’ future for region and 1 billion people who depend on it for water

    The melting of Himalayan glaciers has doubled since the turn of the century, with more than a quarter of all ice lost over the last four decades, scientists have revealed. The accelerating losses indicate a “devastating” future for the region, upon which a billion people depend for regular water.

    The scientists combined declassified US spy satellite images from the mid-1970s with modern satellite data to create the first detailed, four-decade record of ice along the 2,000km (1,200-mile) mountain chain.

    Continue reading...

  • Poland, Hungary and Czech Republic refuse to sign up to text that activists already viewed as too vague

    A trio of central European countries have blocked the EU from inching closer to a net-zero carbon emissions target for 2050.

    European leaders meeting in Brussels sparred over the EU’s role in tackling the unfolding climate emergency, which threatens to significantly worsen the risks of drought, floods, extreme heat, poverty and destruction of wildlife around the world.

    Continue reading...

  • Mass migration back to UK waylaid by stormy conditions and lack of nesting places

    The number of swifts that returned to Britain from their wintering grounds in Africa this spring was the lowest since records began, with poor weather in the Mediterranean delaying their arrival by two weeks. Experts fear the recent wet weather will further hit their numbers. Swift numbers in Britain have fallen by more than 50% since 1995.

    More than 100 walks, talks and visits to urban areas to witness the swift’s aerial “screaming parties” will be held this week to raise awareness of the plight of this unique migratory bird.

    Continue reading...

  • Shell, BP and Centrica have talked of backing EU emissions target but withheld support

    The UK’s largest energy companies have withheld support for a legally binding target to reduce the EU’s emissions to net zero by 2050, even while publicly backing the plans.

    Royal Dutch Shell, BP and British Gas’s owner, Centrica, have all publicly thrown their weight behind more ambitious EU emissions cuts, but none supported the Brussels proposals for a tougher target in an official consultation.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds