Nature Watch, May 2018

Steve Jones, ever on the watch for birds, has some exciting sightings in May. 

Roller (zlatovrana) Roller (zlatovrana) Photo: Steve Jones

As Steve reports: Not a great deal to report in May, primarily as two weeks were spent in the UK. That said, the last two weeks of the month have been very interesting with several new sightings which I had not seen before on the island or elsewhere. Also without doubt I had an element of luck, being at the right place and the right time, as two of the new species were just glimpses: I saw the Sand Martin just once among swifts and swallows, and spotted the Lesser Grey Shrike just for a few seconds, but I was still just able to get photographic record shots for confirmation, though not good enough for publication. The Nightjar I recognized by its call, but as I have no hope of getting a daytime picture of one, I am aiming to be more successful with a night-time photo.

Sand Martin, photographed at Reculver Cliffs, UK, in April 2016 by John Ball

If you are an early riser around 04:30-04:45 you may have heard the “dawn chorus”. It's well worth getting up for at this time of year, even if you only do it once! More generally, you have probably noticed this month several species of bird carrying food to their young.

Red-backed Shrike sitting on her nest, Photo Steve Jones

If you are not familiar with House Martins, there is a good opportunity to see them in action at the post office in Vrbanj. They have built a nest right above the door, where the adults fearlesslyfeed their young, so no need for any binoculars or fancy equipment. Closer to home, in my garden, I have a Red Backed Shrike sitting on eggs (presumably). I took the photograph above last week of another Red Backed Shrike, also sitting, about 100 metres from my house.

Red-backed Shrike (male). Photo: Steve Jones

The male (pictured above) was to be seen quite close by where the female was sitting. There were four young in the nest, which fitted in perfectly until about mid-June. By 17th June, they were so big they were struggling to fit into the nest. Much as I wanted to get a picture of the adults feeding the young, I realised it was pretty well impossible, as they obviously kept away if they saw me anywhere near the nest.

Red Backed Shrike babies, 17th June 2018, growing up fast. Photo: Steve Jones

The Black Headed Bunting arrived at pretty much the same time as last year but I have only seen one so far, so they are nothing like as common as the Red Backed or Woodchat Shrikes.

Rose.Coloured Starlings. Photo: Steve Jones

I had a friend visiting for a few days and whilst out one morning we came across three Rose Coloured Starlings for a matter of seconds. I managed to get a record shot but before I could get another picture they were off.

Just minutes after this another first for the island – and that at the pond I visit almost daily. The Squacco Heron, this stayed for three days before moving on.

Squacco Heron. Photo: Steve Jones

Without doubt the highlight of the month was a short visit of two Rollers (zlatovrana). The photographs are poor as they were some distance and as it was a first for me. I spent more time looking through the binoculars at the birds than photographing. That said some adequate record shots. These were visible for about three minutes and despite me scouring the area pretty well every day since, no signs.

During the next three months I won’t be going out as frequently. Already things are beginning to quieten down, the Nightingale, which was singing incessantly, has already cut its singing down. I have only heard one Cuckoo in the last five days, but interestingly this year I have heard a female Cuckoo a few times. I still wonder what the host bird may be. My thinking is it might be a Corn Bunting, so if you see an active Corn Bunting, check it out: you never know, it may be feeding a Cuckoo!

Broad-Bodied Chaser Dragonfly. Photo: Steve Jones

The pond I visit is holding its water levels well, there are signs now of it dropping but it is still considerably higher than this time last year. I am also noticing quite a lot of dragonfly activity, several Emperors, Broad Bodied Chasers and an Emerald damselfly (I am awaiting confirmation on which Emerald species).

Emperor Dragonfly. Photo: Steve Jones

Finally a shot of everyone’s favourite ……………………….the Bee-Eater, which is one of the strongest draws attracting birding enthusiasts from cooler climates to Hvar.

Bee-Eater. Photo: Steve Jones

 

Species sighted in May 2018. Shaded areas mark species new to me on the island.
© Steve Jones, 2018
For more of Steve's nature pictures, see his personal pages: Bird Pictures on Hvar 2017Bird Pictures and Sightings on Hvar 2018, and Butterflies of Hvar
You are here: Home Nature Watch Nature Watch, May 2018

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Breakthrough means less pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions

    It is a problem bedevilling households across the UK: what can we do with the mountains of food-spattered plastic waste left in our bins?

    Now a group of scientists say they have the answer – by using the detritus of domestic life to heat homes.

    Continue reading...

  • Schools should teach pupils gardening skills to instil a passion for the environment in future generations, says horticultural chief

    From the water vole to the Scottish wildcat, the dwindling numbers of Britain’s most at-risk animals are well documented. But now the alarm bell is sounding over a rather more overlooked endangered species: green-fingered children.

    Young people are so rarely spotted in gardens across Britain nowadays that the Royal Horticultural Society is warning that the country is facing a green skills crisis unless more learn to garden.

    Continue reading...

  • Australians can afford to spend more on food that meets higher animal welfare standards. It’s time to demand change from farmers

    It’s easy to argue that the intensification of animal farming puts food on the average Aussie battler’s table at a price they can afford. By suggesting we eat less meat, or better-quality meat, it’s easy to be accused of favouring the rich: perhaps only theycan afford the grass-fed, organic, free-range alternative?

    So let’s take a look at the numbers. The average Australian spends about 14% of their income on food – down from about 19% of income 30 years ago. According to government statistics, total annual expenditure on meat and seafood was only $650 per person in 2015-16 compared with $734 in 1988-89, allowing for inflation (the data for seafood and meat were compiled into one number, unfortunately). We spend less on meat than we used to, and buy more of it. So now, according to the most recent numbers available, each week households spend an average of $13.70 on vegetables and $9.60 on fresh fruit. Compare that to the $40 or more we spend each week on takeaways, fast food and confectionery. Or the 31% of our food budget we spend eating out, a 50% increase on three decades prior. Or the $13 we spend, on average, per household, per week, on our pets.

    Continue reading...

  • Even short-haul flights produce huge amounts of CO2, figures show

    Continue reading...

  • High numbers have reached UK in past six weeks and many of their offspring will emerge during Big Butterfly Count

    Wildlife lovers are being urged to help record the greatest influx of painted lady butterflies for a decade as part of the world’s largest butterfly survey.

    Unusually high numbers of the migratory butterfly have flown into Britain from continental Europe in the last six weeks and some of their offspring will emerge during the Big Butterfly Count, which starts on Friday.

    Continue reading...

  • Firebugs in Russia, monkeys in India and penguin visitors in a New Zealand sushi shop

    Continue reading...

  • Our conditions have forced us to temper our expectations, but my friend and I won’t let them stop us pursuing what we love

    A breakaway is a cycling term that refers to an individual or a small group of cyclists who have successfully opened a gap ahead of the peloton, the main group of cyclists. On 21 July, two of us are plotting a breakaway from the disease that hangs over our daily lives by tackling one of the most challenging amateur cycling events.

    The Etape du Tour, which has been running since 1993, is a chance for amateur cyclists to test their mettle on a stage of the Tour de France, riding on the same routes and under the same conditions as the professionals.

    Continue reading...

  • Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority says ‘further loss of coral is inevitable’

    The federal agency that manages the Great Barrier Reef has made an unprecedented call for urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, warning only the “strongest and fastest possible action” will reduce the risks to the natural wonder.

    The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has published a climate position statement that says the reef is already damaged from warming oceans and it is “critical” global temperature rises remain within 1.5 degrees.

    Continue reading...

  • SKM Recycling says its collapse could mean 400,000 tonnes a year more waste sent to landfill

    A major recycling company feared to be at risk of going into administration has warned up to 400,000 tonnes of glass, paper, plastic and metals could be sent to landfill each year if it goes under.

    Victoria-based SKM Recycling issued the warning in a submission to a parliamentary inquiry into the waste management crisis that has grown since China introduced an effective ban on most imported recyclable materials in 2017.

    Continue reading...

  • Not only carbon dioxide but also soot released from fires has impact on global warming, study finds

    The focus on plastics in our oceans has highlighted the global problem of waste disposal. Household bin collection and the recycling, composting, burying or incinerating of our rubbish are key functions of a modern city. But in low-income countries about 90% of waste ends up in open dumps or is burned in the open air.

    Obviously, burning waste creates carbon dioxide and the smoke contains health-harmful particles, but it also contains tiny black particles of soot which have a huge short-term climate impact. Researchers from London’s King’s and Imperialcolleges burned small samples of rubbish and measured the smoke. Soot amounts were greatest when the rubbish contained two plastics: polystyrene and polyethylene terephthalate (more commonly abbreviated to PET and often used to make drinks bottles). Burning waste containing textiles, many of these being plastic, also contributed to high soot releases.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds