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

  • More than 4.5m affected, says UN group, while tests suggest children’s shorter height increases exposure on busy roads

    More than 4.5 million children in the UK are growing up in areas with toxic levels of air pollution, the UN children’s organisation Unicef has warned.

    Tests suggesting that children walking along busy roads are exposed to a third more air pollution than adults, as their shorter height places them close to passing car exhausts, were also released on Thursday.

    Continue reading...

  • Sightings of toads have fallen by nearly a third and frogs by 17% since 2014, RSPB survey finds

    People with gardens are being urged to create simple ponds or areas of long grass because sightings of frogs and toads in gardens are drying up.

    Reports of toads in gardens have fallen by nearly a third since 2014, while sightings of frogs have dropped by 17% over the same period, according to the Big Garden Birdwatch, the RSPB’s wildlife survey.

    Continue reading...

  • The Kilauea eruption has wiped out rare sites and whole ecosystems. As the island mourns a tragedy, it also accepts the brutal cycle of nature

    In Puna, the area of Hawaii island that’s been hardest hit by the Kilauea volcano eruption, those who lived nearest to the lava flows watched the forest around their homes begin to die first. They said the fruit trees, flowers and ferns began turning brown, languishing in the noxious, sulfur-dioxide-filled air. Then the lava came. Now large swaths of formerly verdant forest has been replaced by rough and barren volcanic terrain.

    “Before the eruptions, that area was probably the best forest left in the state of Hawaii,” said Patrick Hart, a biology professor at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. “There were areas where the native Ohia forest extended right up to the ocean, and you just don’t see that in the rest of Hawaii,” he said. Now it’s covered with 20 to 30ft of lava.

    Continue reading...

  • Off the tip of Cape Cod, pods of humpbacks return every summer to feed. For the past 18 years, Philip Hoare has been joining them to witness this incredible display

    At the tip of Cape Cod, a sandy spit reaches out into the Atlantic, like an arm, towards a vast underwater plateau where humpbacks gather each summer to feed. This is the US marine sanctuary of Stellwagen Bank, where for the past three weeks I’ve been a guest on the Dolphin Fleet whalewatch boats, working out of Provincetown.

    Continue reading...

  • Calls by joint inquiry to bring forward UK car sales ban have been resisted by government

    The government has been accused of dragging its feet on air quality improvements by a cross-party group of MPs.

    A partnership of four committees said serious concerns remained about the UK’s commitment to cutting pollution and its impact on public health.

    Continue reading...

  • Former PM could join Craig Kelly, who has also threatened to oppose national energy guarantee

    The former prime minister Tony Abbott has flagged crossing the floor to oppose the national energy guarantee, joining fellow conservative Craig Kelly, who telegraphed a similar threat three weeks ago in an interview with Guardian Australia.

    Conservative critics of the policy are attempting to ratchet up internal pressure on the energy minister, Josh Frydenberg, before a critical meeting with his state and territory counterparts at the beginning of August.

    Continue reading...

  • Antibiotic use on farms is a major cause of human drug resistance. Yet slick social media campaigns – funded by the multi-billion-dollar industry – are confusing and complicating the issue

    Slick industry PR campaigns about antibiotics in food are muddying the water around a serious public health risk, say critics.

    Pharmaceutical and meat companies are using similar tactics to the cigarette industry, in an attempt to confuse consumers and hold off regulation, despite the fact that the rapidly growing risk of anti-microbial resistance is one of the biggest health risks of our time. It’s estimated that by 205010 million people might die a year because we have overused antibiotics.

    Continue reading...

  • Eleven people protesting over pollution from a copper plant have been killed by police in Tamil Nadu in south India

    Another person has been shot dead during violent protests in south India against a copper plant operated by a British mining giant residents say is polluting the local environment.

    Opposition politicians in the state of Tamil Nadu have accused the police of committing mass murder against protesters opposed to the expansion of a copper smelting facility in the port city of Thoothukudi.

    Continue reading...

  • This year, in collaboration with Global Witness, the Guardian aims to record the deaths of all people killed while protecting land or natural resources. At the current rate, about four defenders will die this week somewhere on the planet

    Continue reading...

  • Tanzanian government accused of putting indigenous people at risk in order to grant foreign tourists access to Serengeti wildlife

    The Tanzanian government is putting foreign safari companies ahead of Maasai herding communities as environmental tensions grow on the fringes of the Serengeti national park, according to a new investigation.

    Hundreds of homes have been burned and tens of thousands of people driven from ancestral land in Loliondo in the Ngorongoro district in recent years to benefit high-end tourists and a Middle Eastern royal family, says the report by the California-based thinktank the Oakland Institute.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds