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

  • People and Planet’s annual sustainability league table finds patchy progress across sector

    More than half of universities are not on track to meet their emissions targets, according to an analysis.

    The student network People and Planet haspublished its annual sustainability university league, which found that 46% of higher education institutions were on course to meet the target, up from a third in 2019.

    Continue reading...

  • In the face of the impending climate catastrophe, there has been a growing clamour to repopulate the trillions of trees our planet has lost over the centuries. But large-scale tree planting is not helping, and in some cases it's creating more problems for the environment. Josh Toussaint-Strauss discusses how we've been getting tree planting wrong, and what we should be doing instead to safeguard precious ecosystems and reduce greenhouse gases

    Continue reading...

  • Climate change is happening, and businesses know it. So why don’t company reports show it?

    Last week, Shell walked away from 170 million barrels of oil off the coast of Shetland, declaring the “economic case for investment” too weak. As might be expected with such a politically sensitive venture, there has been much speculation about what other factors might have been at play, whether pressure from Nicola Sturgeon or from Whitehall. But let’s try another question: how did Shell ever decide that there was an economic case? After all, the energy giant does not deny that its entire business will have to change. It advertises its “target to become a net zero emissions” company by 2050, publishes a “sustainability report” and partners with environmental organisations around the world. Yet little of this environmental awareness shows up in the hard numbers.

    The company’s latest accounts features this disclaimer: “Shell’s operating plans, outlooks, budgets and pricing assumptions do not reflect our net zero emissions target.” In other words: whatever the oil giant says is not what it thinks.

    Continue reading...

  • As the sea claims more of the west African shoreline, those left homeless by floods are losing hope that the government will act

    Waves have taken the landscape John Afedzie knew so well. “The waters came closer in the last few months, but now they have destroyed parts of schools and homes. The waves have taken the whole of the village. One needs to use a boat to commute now because of the rising sea levels,” he says.

    Afedzie lives in Keta, one of Ghana’s coastal towns, where a month ago high tide brought seawater flooding into 1,027 houses, according to the government, leaving him among about 3,000 people made homeless overnight.

    Continue reading...

  • Wenlock Edge, Shropshire: This fallen giant, a victim of storm winds, is a gift to the soil and the curious walker

    The storm blew the old elm trunk down, a 15ft-high totem with the crumbling faces of the long dead looking westwards from the wood. The tree may have been more than 200 years old when it fell victim to Dutch elm disease in the 1970s, but it still sent out a hedgeful of suckers for the future, and its disintegrating trunk stayed upright until now.

    Once a prominent tree, marking some forgotten boundary, it becomes another anonymous windthrow sinking into the earth. The duff that rotted from its heartwood is rich and peaty. To see if there is anything in it, I dig about with a stick into what would have been the core of the tree and a place that had not seen the light of day for centuries. There is a bone. A rib, from a lamb or fawn, perhaps. I pick it up. It feels well-preserved, and there is something uncanny about the way it appears.

    Continue reading...

  • Outages hit Ireland and parts of UK after severe winds, rain and snow sweep in from Atlantic

    Almost 30,000 homes in Ireland and 500 properties in Scotland have been left without power after Storm Barra swept in from the Atlantic bringing severe winds, rain and snow.

    The latest outages came days after the final homes in Britain were reconnected after Storm Arwen, which caused “catastrophic damage” to electricity networks mainly in north-east Scotland, affecting 135,000 properties.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists working on the Search For The Lost Fishes project have spotted the freshwater Batman River loach, which has not been seen since 1974

    A freshwater fish that scientists thought was extinct has been found in south-east Turkey, after an absence of nearly 50 years.

    “I’ve been researching this area for 12 years and this fish was always on my wishlist,” said Dr Cüneyt Kaya, associate professor at Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University. “It’s taken a long time. When I saw the distinctive bands on the fish, I felt so happy. It was a perfect moment.”

    Continue reading...

  • Harm included cell death and occurred at levels of plastic eaten by people via their food

    Microplastics cause damage to human cells in the laboratory at the levels known to be eaten by people via their food, a study has found.

    The harm included cell death and allergic reactions and the research is the first to show this happens at levels relevant to human exposure. However, the health impact to the human body is uncertain because it is not known how long microplastics remain in the body before being excreted.

    Continue reading...

  • Farmers and rural business owners call for stricter rules and enforcement

    Fly-tipping incidents in England increased last year, with household waste accounting for by far the biggest proportion of the problem, which has been worsened by the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

    From March 2020 to March 2021 in England, 1.13m fly-tipping incidents were dealt with by local authorities, an increase of 16% on the 980,000 reported in the previous year, according to data released by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on Wednesday. Higher numbers of incidents were reached in 2007-09, but the way the data is collated has changed, so direct comparisons with years before 2018 are not possible.

    Continue reading...

  • He became a household name in the 90s, then disappeared from view. But he never stopped protesting. Now the man known as the human mole is busier than ever

    Dan works in forestry. Clare is a school counsellor. Recently, they took their youngest son to a superhero film. Their middle son loves football. They miss their eldest, Rory, who left home a few months ago.

    The Hoopers are much like any other family with three children, or they would be if Dan did not have an unusual superpower. He is the best DIY digger of tunnels in the country. And for a quarter of a century he has burrowed passageways into the paths of new roads, runways and railways that destroy the countryside and add to spiralling carbon emissions and global heating. In this strange underland, Dan has another name: Swampy.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds