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

  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan dismisses those who believe in global heating as ‘fanatics’ in resurfaced posts

    The new international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, has been accused of rejecting the science behind the climate emergency after a series of tweets came to light showing her dismissing those who believe in global heating as “fanatics”.

    Labour has condemned the appointment of Trevelyan, who was elevated from junior business minister, which took in the brief of promoting clean growth, to replace Liz Truss, the new foreign secretary, as part of Boris Johnson’s reshuffle on Wednesday.

    Continue reading...

  • The Cop26 climate summit will be an opportunity to put fossil fuel companies on trial through the court of public opinion

    Fossil fuel companies bear as much responsibility as governments do for humanity’s climate predicament – and for finding a way out. Our planetary house is on fire, and these companies have literally supplied the fuel. Worse, they lied about it for decades to blunt public awareness and policy reform.

    There’s no better time for ExxonMobil and other petroleum giants to be held accountable than at the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow in November. The Glasgow summit is more than just another international meeting. It is the last chance for world leaders to limit future temperature rise to an amount that civilization can survive. Doing so, scientists say, will require a rapid, global decline in oil, gas and coal burning.

    Continue reading...

  • Minister reveals plans to change laws inherited from EU, with rules on medical devices also in crosshairs

    Rules on genetically modified farming, medical devices and vehicle standards will be top of a bonfire of laws inherited from the EU as the government seeks to change legislation automatically transferred to the UK after Brexit.

    Thousands of laws and regulations are to be reviewed, modified or repealed under a new programme aimed at cementing the UK’s independence and “Brexit opportunities”, David Frost has announced.

    Continue reading...

  • Despite protests from locals and Green councillors, wildlife haven will become hard courts at cost of £266,000

    A wildflower meadow containing 130 different flowering plants, dragonflies and rare bats that sprung up on Norwich’s last public grass tennis courts has been bulldozed.

    Despite protests from local people and Green councillors, all-weather hard courts with floodlights and fencing are being installed in Heigham Park, where species including whiskered and brown long-eared bats, pygmy shrews, hedgehogs and 18 species of dragonfly have been recorded.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists say ozone hole is unusually large for this stage in season and growing quickly

    The hole in the ozone layer that develops annually is “rather larger than usual” and is currently bigger than Antartica, say the scientists responsible for monitoring it.

    Researchers from the Copernicus Atmosphere Monitoring Service say that this year’s hole is growing quickly and is larger than 75% of ozone holes at this stage in the season since 1979.

    Continue reading...

  • Doctors say Mathew Richards’ life expectancy has been shortened due to exposure to hydrogen sulphide fumes

    The high court has ruled the Environment Agency must do more to protect a five-year-old boy from landfill fumes that doctors say are shortening his life expectancy.

    In a landmark judgment on Thursday, a high court judge said he was not satisfied that the EA was complying with its legal duty to protect the life of Mathew Richards, whose respiratory health problems are being worsened by fumes from a landfill site near his home in Silverdale, near Newcastle-under-Lyme.

    Continue reading...

  • Since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, more than 1m tonnes of radioactive water has been building up at the power plant in central Japan. Soon the plant will run out of space to store the water, which is a big problem. The plan at the moment is to dump it all in the sea. So how do you go about making 1m tonnes of radioactive water, safe to drink?

    Continue reading...

  • EPA data reveals that one of America’s biggest PFAS-making plants is second largest polluter of highly damaging HCFC-22 gas

    A new analysis of Environmental Protection Agency data has revealed that PFAS chemicals – often known as “forever chemicals” due to their longevity in the environment – are contributing to the climate crisis as their production involves the emission of potent greenhouse gases.

    In recent years, an ever-expanding body of scientific research has shown that per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) are among the most toxic substances widely used in consumer products.

    Continue reading...

  • They are essential for trapping carbon, and world leaders must commit to protecting them, write a group of conservationists

    News that the perilous plight of endangered grasslands is not fully recognised in a EU draft anti-deforestation law (Leaked EU anti-deforestation law omits fragile grasslands and wetlands, 14 September) brings into sharp focus the dangerous underappreciation of a global habitat that has a crucial role in the fight against climate change. Grasslands aren’t just crucibles of biodiversity, playing home to a wealth of wild plants, fungi, butterflies and bees, they also possess an as-yet underreported ability to lock down carbon. Given that up to 30% of the Earth’s land carbon is stored in grassland, these sites are every bit as important as other ecosystems in the fight against greenhouse gases.

    The Grasslands+ campaign, supported by some of Britain’s leading conservation charities including Plantlife, Butterfly Conservation and the Bumblebee Conservation Trust, is calling for international protections for our planet’s grasslands, savannas, plains, heaths, steppes and meadows to help mitigate the impact of climate change and increase biodiversity. The UK government, the EU and other world leaders must commit to restoring, enhancing and protecting these habitats at Cop26 in Glasgow.
    Ian DunnCEO, Plantlife;Gill PerkinsCEO, Bumblebee Conservation Trust; Julie WilliamsCEO, Butterfly Conservation

    Continue reading...

  • When residents in Union Hill, Virginia, decried the pipeline as a form of environmental racism, the energy company insisted it wasn’t

    As fracked gas fields in West Virginia boomed over the past decade, energy companies jumped at the chance to build massive new pipelines to move the fuel to neighboring east coast markets. The 600-mile Atlantic Coast pipeline would have been the crown jewel.

    But Union Hill, Virginia – a community settled by formerly enslaved people after the civil war on farm land they had once tilled – stood in the way. Residents fought against a planned compressor station meant to help the gas move through the pipeline, arguing that because Union Hill is a historic Black community, the resulting air pollution would be an environmental injustice.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds