Birdwatch, August - September 2017

Published in Nature Watch

Well summer is over, birding-wise, and during the last three months, hopefully, birds have bred successfully on the island. I have certainly seen evidence of this, particularly recently, with good numbers of House Sparrows all around. Also frequently during the summer months I have seen birds carrying food to nests.

Two Storks holidaying in Jelsa, September 2017. Two Storks holidaying in Jelsa, September 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

We are keeping an eye out for bats, as they have been noticeably fewer over the past few years. Happily, there have been more around this year. On August 9th, at dinner with nearby neighbours, I was pleased to see quite a few bats of different species swooping under the lights of their swimming pool. There was a Nightjar too.

Adult and juvenile Golden Orioles, September 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

With some difficulty and not terribly good images but I managed to photograph an adult and juvenile Golden Oriole which nested nearby in Dol – last heard in very early September, in Dol and also in Vrboska.

Mid-September and I have seen a few birds of prey passing through, several Harriers, Honey Buzzard (a bird watching friend visiting picked up on that – I’m not so sure I would have picked it out ). We also saw a Short-Toed Eagle on two different occasions at two different locations. Was it the same bird?? Perhaps.

After the much needed rain I visited the pond on Stari Grad plain every day to see if this would bring anything new in but still very quiet. I was seeing Whinchats and still Red Backed Shrike, an occasional Cirl Bunting calling whilst picking grapes on 14th September. Also on two different days a Sparrowhawk looking to feed but sadly on both days it was unsuccessful while I was there.

Hoopoe, looking pale, September 2017, Photo: Steve Jones

On September 13th down at the Vrbanj airfield I saw the first birds actually feeding on the ground, the recent rain had clearly softened the ground, providing some food, I counted 16 Hooded Crows, probably in the region of 200 House Sparrows in various flocks, a Hoopoe – you can clearly see from the picture how pale it looks in comparison to the arrival earlier in the year.

There were also a few Wheatear and seven Tawny Pipits, once again passing through. I wasn't totally sure of the identification, but three people I asked for help all confirmed.

On the same day whilst watching from my garden I saw several Blackcaps both adult and newly fledged birds feeding on the figs. Also several Spotted Flycatchers. Then, another first for me on the island, no doubt just passing through as there's been no sign of it since – a Wood Warbler. For ages I had been trying to photograph a male Blackcap and female, to show the difference between them for anyone who wants to identify them. In mid-September they were constantly feeding on the figs, albeit really difficult to catch on camera. But I was fortunate on the afternoon of September 15th. The picture clearly identifies a male and two females, female Blackcaps having the “brown cap”. Couldn’t be any better than that to make a comparison.

Male and two female Blackcaps, September 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

On September 17th two storks came to earth in Jelsa. Immediate steps were taken by bird-loving friends of Eco Hvar to ensure that they would be given appropriate food and kept as safe as possible. They settled into a comfortable routine over the next few days. The rain which came down on September 20th provided a good source of insects, which they devoured with gusto. They also clearly enjoyed the fresh fish meals which were being provided at intervals during the day. Storks are generally gentle birds, and intelligent. They quickly realized that shopping bags could be bringing them their mobile meals, so they were prone to advancing on any innocent shoppers who were trying toload their bags into cars parked nearby. The only worry was whether they would get too used to this luxury lifestyle to resume their long journey to Africa. However, this is not the first time storks have appeared in jelsa at this time of year, and they have always moved on after a while, so we shall see.

One of Jelsa's visiting Storks, 22nd September 2017. Photo: Vivian Grisogono

By September 21st most other migrating birds had headed off. I saw a single Swallow the day before. Out on my bike on the morning of the 21st, I saw Yellow Wagtails and Tawny Pipits frequenting the airfield getting ready to move on, while there was nothing at the pond again.

© Steve Jones, 2017

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

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