Birdwatch, January - February 2018

Well as I type this on March 1st looking out at my bird feeders amidst heavy snowfall, the birding calendar tells me Spring is on its way.

Kingfisher, January 2018 Kingfisher, January 2018 Photo: Steve Jones

January was interesting, bringing me several new species on the island. But it was also notable for the absence of “winter birds” such as Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare plus Brambling. The absence of Brambling, which is similar to the Chaffinch and often seen with them, is a mystery. With Chaffinch being by far the most numerous bird on the island, try as I might I am just not seeing Brambling amongst them.

January 1st was a great start in as much as I saw a Peregrine Falcon on the airfield. It doesn’t mean they aren’t here all the time, but this was the first time I had seen one. However, I only managed a poor picture.The Hawfinch I saw in the latter part of December was visible with two others on a few more occasions during January, which I consider unusual. Oddly, there were also numerous sightings of these birds in the UK at about the same time.

Peregrine falcon. Photo: Steve Jones

Most days Sparrowhawk and Buzzard were to be seen. Not quite so often, but enough times to say they over-winter here, I saw Hen Harriers. In mid - January I was seeing the Kingfisher almost every day in Stari Grad.

Blackbirds were notably active everywhere, mostly feeding on ivy berries, or enjoying a bath in the water tray in my garden. Equally my bird feeders continued to bring in good numbers of Chaffinches, Great Tits and Blue Tits, probably peaking at 30 birds. Blue tits were present in far greater numbers during January than before Christmas. Apart from these, I also saw the occasional Robin, Wren and Dunnock.

Blue tit. Photo: Steve Jones

On January 11th I had a fantastic morning. There was some sunshine and no wind, and I saw loads of assorted Finches, Wrens, Dunnocks, Cirl Buntings, Wood Larks (which I thought at first were Tree Pipits), and 30 hooded crows in one flock. There were also Sardinian Warblers and Stonechats, both of which clearly over-wintered here - I had suspected as much in the case of the Sardinian Warbler, as I had seen one or two during the winter of 2016, although before that I used to think it arrived with other migrants in the Spring. January 11th brought this picture.

Sardinian warbler. Photo: Steve Jones

The pond I visit most often for birdwatching was at last beginning to take on water come the third week of January. I had thought to myself in December about how low the levels were. Little did I know what was to come, and that there was no need to worry. By the end of February it has surpassed the levels of last Winter. On 28th January in Stari Grad I sort of dismissed hearing a Woodpecker. At the time I was concentrating on identifying a diving bird in the channel leading up to Stari Grad. Then I caught sight of the Woodpecker, if briefly, and, more importantly, could easily recognise the call of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. In over ten years of birdwatching on Hvar, I had never come across one. However, a friend in Jelsa told me later that there was a woodpecker nest close to his home last year. Obviously I can't hope to spot all the resident or visiting birds on Hvar so it is pleasing when gaps are filled in by other enthusiasts, and even more so when I catch up with those I haven't seen in previous years. 

Great spotted woodpecker. Photo: Steve Jones

The diving bird I was tracking on January 28th also turned out to be another first for me on the island, a Black Necked Grebe. Nobody was more surprised than me when I managed to identify it with certainty on 31st January.

Not much new to report in February, I did note that 21st of February the pond levels were back at winter levels of 2017. ( I have a marker placed last year as an indicator – until someone finds it that is). I did note that the Black Redstart was just starting to take on its summer breeding plumage. February 22nd brought in 10 Lapwings on the airfield, in recent days, particularly since the arrival of the snow, I would estimate 50-60 birds but spread out now. They don’t like you getting too close for photographs but have managed this.

Lapwing. Photo: Steve Jones

I have been trying to get out twice a day during the cold spell to see what it has brought in and I have been more than surprised with a few sightings. In addition to the Lapwing some returning waders are now at the pond. 27th on the airfield I caught by chance amongst the Lapwings a Grey Plover, a first for me on the island. Also a Swallow - so despite the snow Spring is on its way. Yesterday afternoon whilst trying to take a picture of a Snipe (another new one for me on the island), a dozen Common Cranes touched down briefly.

Common cranes in flight. Photo: Steve Jones

The tally of first sightings for the first two months of the year was 49. Let us hope it dries up and warms up in March, bringing more arrivals.

© Steve Jones 2018.

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

 

 

You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch, January - February 2018

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions, study finds

    The climate crisis is pushing the planet’s tropical regions towards the limits of human livability, with rising heat and humidity threatening to plunge much of the world’s population into potentially lethal conditions, new research has found.

    Related:'It is the question of the century': will tech solve the climate crisis – or make it worse?

    Continue reading...

  • The disembodied head of the sacoglossan sea slug feasts on algae while its old body decomposes, and a new one grows

    If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs, then it’s unlikely that you are a sacoglossan sea slug (apologies to Rudyard Kipling).

    Scientists in Japan have discovered that this species of sea slug can decapitate itself and then regrow an entirely new body, complete with a beating heart and other vital organs.

    Continue reading...

  • Investigation questions eco-friendly claims of incineration industry

    When it comes to planet-friendly habits, recycling is by far the UK’s most popular, with 87% of householders claiming they do so regularly, according to the Waste and Resources Action Programme. But an investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches into where our rubbish goes, and the role played by energy-from-waste incineration plants, has found that millions of tonnes of our carefully sorted empties are simply being burned after they’re collected.

    Freedom of information requests reveal that, on average, 11% of rubbish collected for recycling is incinerated. In some areas the figures are far higher: 45% in Southend-on-Sea and 38% in Warwickshire.

    Continue reading...

  • As more women leave rural areas for cities, course forms part of drive to revive villages

    The rugged pathways crisscross Spain, sprawling across an estimated 1% of its territory. Etched into the land over centuries, the country’s livestock roads have long been the domain of solitary men leading their flocks to lush pastures.

    Now a new initiative is looking to change this with the launch of the country’s first shepherding school for women. The aim of the School for Shepherdesses of the 21st Century is twofold: offering women a foothold in a trade long dominated by men, while also throwing a lifeline to the thousands of Spanish towns that are slowly fading from the map.

    Continue reading...

  • With the help of botanists, Daan Roosegaarde has created a ‘light recipe’ for a field of leeks to help the plants grow better

    By day, the field of leeks looks like any other. But, as the sun sets, blue and red light, mixed with invisible ultraviolet (UV) radiation, transforms the scene into a multicoloured landscape.

    This LED light show is not just for effect. For a couple of hours every evening the lights are shone across the 20,000sq metre field in Lelystad in the Netherlands in a bid to make the leeks grow better. In a light installation that brings art and science together, four solar-powered units emit a tailor-made spectrum across the leafy vegetables.

    Continue reading...

  • Joiningthe workforce in Cornwall’s flower fields, I struggled to keep up in the rush to bring in a fragile crop post-Brexit

    It’s the kind of day when the cloud is so thick that a heavy greyness hangs in the air. But not in the fields of Fentongollan Farm in Cornwall, where swathes of yellow roll down the hillside, brightening the dull sky with spring cheer. Fentongollan is one of the world’s leading daffodil farms, growing globally renowned varieties that are a dazzling sight in full bloom.

    “Yes, they do look nice, the yellow fields,” says Frances Hosking, 22, showing me around the land her family has farmed for generations. “But yellow fields are not good for us growers – they are a sign the crop hasn’t been picked. The flowers should be harvested before they have opened up – we want the fields to stay green.”

    Continue reading...

  • Allendale, Northumberland: Soon these ‘mad’ hares will be less wary as their mating instincts take over. Then the males will chase the females full pelt through these upland fields

    We saw their tracks in the February snow, sensing energy in the mass of overlaying prints. Swirling, twisting and doubling back, they were evidence that brown hares, Lepus europaeus, had been having some wild party. Now, with the snow gone, I have to rely on sightings to know what they are up to, but brown hares are clever at hiding themselves, even out in the open.

    I watch one crossing the field. Every time the hare pauses, it stops beside a clump of dead thistles. Without seeing it move, I would never spot it among the dull stalks and the faded rushes. Sometimes it flattens down, camouflaged as a molehill or a heap from the muckspreader.

    Continue reading...

  • Temperatures as low as -40C in Russia may be behind a rise in large flocks in the UK as they escape the cold

    Driving through Ripon, North Yorkshire, last week, Hayley Blaymires was surprised to see thousands of birds swoop in spectacular formations across the sky.

    She had heard people talking about starling murmurations, which this year have been happening unusually close to the centre of Ripon, but this was the first time she was seeing them for herself.

    Continue reading...

  • Cyclone Winston devastated vital coral colonies off Fiji, but four years on, the reefs are alive again, teeming with fish and colour

    In the immediate aftermath of the strongest cyclone to ever make landfall in the southern hemisphere, reefs across the Namena reserve and Vatu-i-Ra conservation park off Fiji were reduced to rubble.

    Tropical Cyclone Winston struck Fiji on 20 February 2016, causing devastation on land and underwater. Winds of up to 280km/h claimed 44 lives, leaving more than 40,000 homes damaged or destroyed, and storm surges smashed reefs in their path. Winston caused US$1.4bn in damage, the most destructive cyclone ever in the Pacific.

    Continue reading...

  • Expanding dairy herds have seen surplus male calves shipped to the continent for veal, but there is unease over welfare conditions

    Irish authorities have announced plans to fly unweaned dairy calves from Ireland to other EU destinations from May, in an effort to address growing unease about the length of the journeys made by thousands of animals shipped each year to mainland Europe.

    The Irish government has been subject to sustained scrutiny over live calf exports and the decision to experiment with flights, which will significantly cut travel time, comes as a European parliament committee of inquiry examines alleged failures across Europe in enforcing rules on protecting transported animals.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

Feed not found.