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Birdwatch: rounding up the summer of 2018

Steve Jones reports from Dol on the new bird sightings and interesting insects which have showed up during the long hot summer of 2018.

Greenfinch Greenfinch Photo: Steve Jones

Since my last report at the end of May I am afraid not a great deal of news over the last four months. I continue to go out on a regular basis over my patch. Since May I have added a further five species to my yearly list taking the number of species I have seen to 90 now. This doesn’t mean that I am seeing all birds that pass through the island by any means. I had two neighbours very recently report of seeing a White Stork on wires outside my house. On both occasions I was elsewhere so I have not counted the sighting. There have been other birds I have glimpsed and birds of prey seen without positive ID.

Pygmy cormorant. Photo: Steve Jones

With water levels at the pond a lot higher than last year it continued to be a good source of birds passing through, regular Sandpipers, waders, Egrets. A new sighting for me on the island and caught by pure chance was a Pygmy Cormorant.

Red-backed shrikes, nest. Photo: Steve Jones

I was fortunate in Dol to have three nests of Red Backed Shrikes all within 50 metres of the house, one nest in a plum tree in the garden. So I managed a collection of family shrike pictures. In my May report there was a photograph of the female sitting on one nest. The adults wouldn’t feed the young whilst I was nearby but I have taken a series of shots for you to see in various stages. For reference there were four chicks in the nest.

Red-backed-shrikes. Photo: Steve Jones

This series of pictures was around mid june. I didn’t notice the day of departure but like a lot of species they start disappearing after the longest day. The Nightingale almost ceases its calling and departs soon after, a bird I have yet to capture in picture despite countless hours trying. Cuckoos were very similar in leaving. This year I did hear a female on several occasions – I am assuming they bred here but try as I might didn’t manage to find evidence of this, in fact I would like to know what the host bird might be.

I saw evidence of Corn Buntings, Sub Alpine warblers, Bee-eaters, Swifts, Swallows, House Martins breeding as well as Woodchat Shrike and Blackcaps - unless they have two broods here both were a lot later in the season, particularly Blackcaps.

In my own garden I grew some Sunflowers this year, my plan was to grow them in succession and harvest the seeds for winter feeding. Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out like that, I bought a multi headed variety so the heads weren’t huge. That said as the seed-heads developed they brought in several Sparrows and Greenfinches, so no harvesting of seeds was possible. I have bought some different seeds for next year!

Dragonfly. Photo: Steve Jones

As we moved into July and August things were very quiet, the water in the pond almost evaporated to nothing. I did take a photo of a dragonfly emerging from the pond one morning which I thought would be interesting for you to see. While I know very little about dragonflies, they start their lives off in the water. When ready to change into a dragonfly the live crawls up a reed and the dragonfly emerges. You can see in the image the dragonfly has yet to colour up, and the exuvia (casing - an Emperor dragonfly). You can also see its wings shining and not straight. At this stage it has just emerged and needs to dry/air itself in the sun. It slowly colours up will be soon flying.

This bird pictured below is a Dunlin, it appeared just once in July. It was a nice surprise as it was in breeding plumage.

Dunlin, July 2018. Photo: Steve Jones

Below for comparison is the same species of bird taken at the airfield in March in its winter plumage.

Dunlin in winter plumage, March 2018. Photo: Steve Jones

There was very little showing through September, I picked up a Melodious warbler and Tawny Pipit but literally passing through. I was seeing Juvenile Woodchat shrike(s) up to 25th September. I am assuming there had to be more than one, but it could have been the same one in different locations. For me what was interesting about this is that the Red-Backed Shrikes had gone two months prior, and equally I wasn’t seeing any adult Woodchat Shrikes around for some time. Was this bird an isolated one that got left behind or will he naturally find his way to its wintering home like Cuckoo?

Woodchat shrike. Photo: Steve Jones

With three months to go until the end of the year are there going to be any surprises? – until next itme! ………………… I was swimming at Soline/Vrboska on 2nd October and did have 5 Common Cranes fly over.

© 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