Nature Watch, May 2018

Published in Nature Watch

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
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