Birdwatch March-April 2018

Steve reports from Dol on the unsettled spring weather, and the welcome bird arrivals on Hvar: March and April have continued to bring the species in and as at April 24th I have seen 77 species with possibly two or three unidentified.

Spring-time and the Golden Oriole is back. Spring-time and the Golden Oriole is back. Photo: Steve Jones

March continued to be another month with a very heavy rainfall. My “marker stick” (an indicator as to pond levels in 2017) has completely disappeared and is still not visible near the end of April.

I am thinking the birds have been arriving slightly earlier than last year, up to two weeks in many cases. As my data is limited, does it mean they were late coming back in 2017? Without several years' data you can’t get an accurate picture of their movement, but at least you do have a general idea on when you would expect to see certain species.

By March 10th, things were already starting to move on. The Great Tits that were the most numerous feeders had gone, I could hear the odd one singing here and there but by and large the bulk had disappeared. Blue Tits and Chaffinches were continuing to feed, but would stop in the next 10 days or so. Blackbird numbers dropped dramatically so I was wondering if a fair proportion have gone off to breed elsewhere. The Lapwings which had been pretty numerous in comparison to last year arrived on February 22nd this year, as I recall, but now by March 10th I had not seen not seen one in three days. My first sighting of a Lapwing on the island was on February 14th 2017.

Lapwing. Photo: Steve Jones

The arrival of the Scops Owl and Nightingale was pretty much to the day as it was last year. I have also heard a Chiff Chaff in three consecutive years at pretty much the same place and time, and I am convinced it pauses briefly here and then moves straight on.

Ruff. Photo: Steve Jones

In early March there were several species of duck on the pond, Teal, Wigeon and a new one for me, Garganey. They proved very difficult to get a picture of despite numerous attempts, the slightest movement and they were off. Under normal circumstances they may well have returned quite soon, but because all of the surrounding fields were water-logged these and several other species were flying further away. I found evidence of this on numerous occasions with the Lapwings and Ruffs.

Garganey. Photo: Steve Jones

Another highlight for me was the touchdown of the Common Crane. In 2016 I noted a big flock passing over in the Autumn. Here at the beginning of March I saw twelve just fly over. March 2nd however three birds landed on the airfield. These three were seen at various locations for a further eight days or so.

 
Common Cranes. Photo: Steve Jones

March was also clearly the month for watching birds of prey. Sparrowhawks and Kestrels were seen almost daily.

Sparrowhawk. Photo: Steve Jones

Also there have been several Marsh and Hen Harriers around. Although I took many pictures I am afraid they are more as a record of the species than for publication. I did capture a Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard, our most common birds of prey on the island.

Kestrel. Photo: Steve Jones

March 24th was the end of a fantastic week, when I saw Marsh Harriers daily three days running. I think they were only passing through. I didn't manage any decent pictures. But I did get a fantastic picture of a Golden Plover that morning, in its transition phase, changing from winter to summer plumage. This brought the number of species seen so far in 2018 to about 58.

Golden Plover. Photo: Steve Jones

April continued with the steady trickle of new arrivals. I noticed a lot more Sub-Alpine Warblers this year than last: perhaps they enjoyed a successful breeding season in 2017. I would suggest they are probably the most numerous summer residents along with the Nightingales which are singing at all hours of the day and night. I keep trying, but I have still yet to photograph one of the latter.

Sub-Alpine Warbler. Photo: Steve Jones

From about the 14th April, the Buzzard seemed to have moved, appearing less and less frequerntly towards the end of the month, though you still might see the odd one.

Buzzard. Photo: Steve Jones

I have been trying for a long time to get a picture of a cuckoo, with difficulty. This one is not great, but at least you can see what it is.

Cuckoo. Photo: Steve Jones

I think without any doubt the highlight for me so far this year was ( whilst searching for a Cuckoo ) finding the Eagle Owl in daylight, probably just before 07:00 hrs on 17th April. I had a good view of it for about a minute, I managed three poor photographs but for the many people that hear these birds now you know what they look like.

Eagle Owl. Photo: Steve Jones

Between 18th and 19th April there was a big movement of birds coming in, with several Whinchats and Whitethroats appearing on the morning on the 19th, and my first Alpine Swift of the year, Last year's first sighting of the Alpine Swift was on March 30th. On April 21st the Bee-Eaters arrived in my area, as did Turtle Doves, and there was a Purple Heron at or near the pond. The Golden Oriole arrived but it was moving about and only calling periodically. Golden Orioles are very nervous of movement of any kind, so they fly to nearby trees at the slightest disturbance when I spot them near the pond. One needs to use the binoculars to get a good view of them.

Purple Heron. Photo: Steve Jones

Towards the end of April, the Blackbirds which had settled were often to be seen carrying food, a sure sign suggesting they now had young. The warm weather at the end of the month ensured that the early morning chorus of birdsong has been particularly joyful!

 

 

© Steve Jones 2018

For more of Steve's nature pictures, see his personal pages: Bird Pictures on Hvar 2017, Bird Pictures and Sightings on Hvar 2018, and Butterflies of Hvar

You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch March-April 2018

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Products withdrawn because of serious contamination are on the rise, report finds

    The number of meat and poultry products recalled in the US for potentially life-threatening health hazards has nearly doubled since 2013, according to a report by a consumer watchdog group.

    The US Department of Agriculture logged 97 meat recalls for serious health hazards in 2018, ranging from 12 million pounds of raw beef that made close to 250 people ill withsalmonella to the withdrawal of 174,000 pounds of chicken wraps for possible contamination with listeria.

    Continue reading...

  • Alaskans have been enjoying free, organic meat for the past 50 years. Should other places stop turning their noses up?

    My mother texts me four photos of a dead moose the week I leave Alaska. It is freshly hit. The pebbled pink brains fanning across the pavement have not yet grayed in the brisk autumn air. The animal will not go to waste. For the past 50 years, Alaska has been the only state where virtually every piece of large roadkill is eaten.

    Every year, between 600 and 800 moose are killed in Alaska by cars, leaving up to 250,000lb of organic, free-range meat on the road. State troopers who respond to these collisions keep a list of charities and families who have agreed to drive to the scene of an accident at any time, in any weather, to haul away and butcher the body.

    Continue reading...

  • As Hitachi and Toshiba abandon plans for new British nuclear reactors, Damian Carrington assesses the merits of the technology

    All sources of electricity face the same trilemma in the 21st century: carbon emissions, continuity of supply and cost. The UK government has placed a big bet on nuclear power, but reactors meet only two of the three challenges. Nuclear power is low carbon and a secure source of electricity – but it is hugely expensive.

    In the era of climate change, generating power without belching out carbon emissions is vital. While building nuclear plants and fuelling them requires concrete, transport and so on, the overall emissions are similar to windand solar power. All produce far less carbon than coal or gas-powered stations.

    Continue reading...

  • A complete overhaul of what we eat may be the only way to meet the needs of a planet in crisis. So what’s on – and off – the menu?

    The world faces many challenges over the coming decades, but one of the most significant will be how to feed its expanding global population. By 2050, there will be about 10 billion of us, and how to feed us all, healthily and from sustainable food sources, is something that is already being looked at. The Norway-based thinktank Eat and the British journal the Lancet have teamed up to commission an in-depth, worldwide study, which launches at 35 different locations around the world today, into what it would take to solve this problem – and the ambition is huge.

    The commissioners lay out important caveats. Their solution is contingent on global efforts to stabilise population growth, the achievement of the goals laid out in the Paris Agreement on climate change and stemming worldwide changes in land use, among other things. But they are clear that it depends on far more than just these basic requirements. The initial report presents a flexible daily diet for all food groups based on the best health science, which also limits the impact of food production on the planet.

    Continue reading...

  • Paris agreement for the sea recommended as rates of plastic pollution to skyrocket

    A new global agreement to protect the seas should be a priority for the government to stop our seas becoming a “sewer”, according to a cross-party group of MPs.

    Plastic pollution is set to treble in the next decade, the environmental audit committee warned, while overfishing is denuding vital marine habitats of fish, and climate change is causing harmful warming of the oceans as well as deoxygenation and acidification.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientist Brad Lister returned to Puerto Rican rainforest after 35 years to find 98% of ground insects had vanished

    “We knew that something was amiss in the first couple days,” said Brad Lister. “We were driving into the forest and at the same time both Andres and I said: ‘Where are all the birds?’ There was nothing.”

    His return to the Luquillo rainforest in Puerto Rico after 35 years was to reveal an appalling discovery. The insect population that once provided plentiful food for birds throughout the mountainous national park had collapsed. On the ground, 98% had gone. Up in the leafy canopy, 80% had vanished. The most likely culprit by far is global warming.

    Continue reading...

  • Rising temperatures can be charted back to the late 1950s, and the last five years were the five hottest on record

    Last year was the hottest ever measured, continuing an upward trend that is a direct result of manmade greenhouse gas emissions.

    The key to the measurements is the oceans. Oceans absorb more than 90% of the heat that results from greenhouse gases, so if you want to measure global warming you really have to measure ocean warming.

    Continue reading...

  • Campaigners say it will cut pollution, but opponents claim it will hit poor people hardest

    “I’m just really glad the ULEZ is coming. Children’s lungs can’t wait,” says Jemima Hartshorn, a Brixton resident who helped set up campaign group Mums For Lungs.

    Continue reading...

  • The continent’s largest land mammal plays crucial role in spiritual lives of the tribes

    On 5,000 hectares of unploughed prairie in north-eastern Montana, hundreds of wild bison roam once again. But this herd is not in a national park or a protected sanctuary – they are on tribal lands. Belonging to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the 340 bison is the largest conservation herd in the ongoing bison restoration efforts by North America’s Indigenous people.

    The bison – or as Native Americans call them, buffalo – are not just “sustenance,” according to Leroy Little Bear, a professor at the University of Lethbridge and a leader in the bison restoration efforts with the Blood Tribe. The continent’s largest land mammal plays a major role in the spiritual and cultural lives of numerous Native American tribes, an “integrated relationship,” he said.

    Continue reading...

  • Prospects for species look dire as federal science body finds that only one of the country’s 16 populations is believed to be stable

    Half of Canada’s chinook salmon are endangered, with nearly all other populations in precarious decline, according to a new report, confirming fears that prospects for the species remain dire.

    The reportby the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada concluded that eight of the country’s 16 populations are considered endangered, four are threatened, one is of special concern and the health of two remain unknown.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds