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

  • New study finds ocean ecosystems likely to collapse in 2020s and land species in 2040s unless global warming stemmed

    Wildlife species will die out and natural ecosystems collapse in the near future if the climate crisis goes unchecked, scientists have warned, as new research shows that the natural world is at far greater risk from climate breakdown than previously thought.

    Catastrophe could strike this decade for some species, as key temperature thresholds are crossed. Instead of the anticipated gradual decline of species, there are likely to be a series of sudden collapses.

    Continue reading...

  • Bacterial enzyme originally found in compost can be used to make high-quality new bottles

    A mutant bacterial enzyme that breaks down plastic bottles for recycling in hours has been created by scientists.

    The enzyme, originally discovered in a compost heap of leaves, reduced the bottles to chemical building blocks that were then used to make high-quality new bottles. Existing recycling technologies usually produce plastic only good enough for clothing and carpets.

    Continue reading...

  • Dirty air increases risk of respiratory problems that can be fatal for coronavirus patients

    Air pollution is linked to significantly higher rates of death in people with Covid-19, according to analysis.

    The work shows that even a tiny, single-unit increase in particle pollution levels in the years before the pandemic is associated with a 15% increase in the death rate. The research, done in the US, calculates that slightly cleaner air in Manhattan in the past could have saved hundreds of lives.

    Continue reading...

  • Rare hole is result of low temperatures in atmosphere and is expected to disappear

    A rare hole has opened up in the ozone layer above the Arctic, in what scientists say is the result of unusually low temperatures in the atmosphere above the north pole.

    The hole, which has been tracked from space and the ground over the past few days, has reached record dimensions, but is not expected to pose any danger to humans unless it moves further south. If it extends further south over populated areas, such as southern Greenland, people would be at increased risk of sunburn. However, on current trends the hole is expected to disappear altogether in a few weeks.

    Continue reading...

  • Most new electricity globally was green and coronavirus bailouts must boost this further, says agency

    Almost three-quarters of new electricity generation capacity built in 2019 uses renewable energy, representing an all-time record. New data from theInternational Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) shows solar, wind and other green technologies now provide more than one-third of the world’s power, marking another record.

    Fossil fuel power plants are in decline in Europe and the US, with more decommissioned than built in 2019. But the number of coal and gas plants grew in Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In the Middle East, which owns half the world’s oil reserves, just 26% of new electricity generation capacity built in 2019 was renewable.

    Continue reading...

  • Number of large-scale, intensive farms with upwards of 40,000 birds or 2,000 pigs is increasing, driven by demand for cheap meat

    New figures reveal that the number of large industrial-sized pig and chicken farms in the UK continues to rise, with close to 2,000 across the country.

    In 2017, the then environment secretary Michael Gove told MPs: “One thing is clear: I do not want to see, and we will not have, US-style farming in this country.” However, the number of industrial-sized pig and poultry units in the UK has risen by 7% from 1,669 in 2017 to 1,786 this year.

    Continue reading...

  • Dartmoor, Devon: Though one of our most approachable birds, it has taken months to persuade this garden robin to eat out of my hand

    It landed with the lightest of pressure, toes thin as fuse wire splayed on my outstretched fingers. With eyes closed, one might have mistaken the weight for the touch of falling raindrops.

    There, on my upturned hand, a robin – my friendly garden robin. Dark pupils watched me as it tucked in to the seed mix on my palm, picking sunflower kernels from the pile one at a time.

    Continue reading...

  • Stefano Mancuso studies what was once considered laughable – the intelligence and behaviour of plants. His work is contentious, he says, because it calls into question the superiority of humans

    I had hoped to interview the plant neurobiologist Stefano Mancuso at his laboratory at the University of Florence. I picture it as a botanical utopia: a place where flora is respected for its awareness and intelligence; where sensitive mimosa plants can demonstrate their long memories; and where humans are invited to learn how to be a better species by observing the behaviour of our verdant fellow organisms.

    But because we are both on lockdown, we Skype from our homes. Instead of meeting his clever plants, I make do with admiring a pile of cannonball-like pods from an aquatic species, on the bookshelves behind him. “They’re used for propagation,” he says. “I am always collecting seeds.”

    Continue reading...

  • Fall in energy use combined with bright, breezy weather leads to lowest electricity prices in 10 years

    Thousands of British homes will be paid to use electricity during the day for the first time, as wind and solar projects produce a surge in clean energy during the coronavirus lockdown.

    On Sunday morning, windfarms contributed almost 40% of the UK’s electricity, while solar power made up almost a fifth of the power system. Fossil fuels made up less than 15% of electricity, of which only 1.1% came from coal plants.

    Continue reading...

  • Warning comes as destruction of nature increasingly seen as key driver of zoonotic diseases

    The United Nations’ biodiversity chief has called for a global ban on wildlife markets – such as the one in Wuhan, China, believed to be the starting point of the coronavirus outbreak – to prevent future pandemics.

    Elizabeth Maruma Mrema,the acting executive secretary of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, said countries should move to prevent future pandemics by banning “wet markets” that sell live and dead animals for human consumption, but cautioned against unintended consequences.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds