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Birdwatch, March 2019

March has proved very interesting, which is just as well, as I was in the UK for most of February so I could not record much.

Common Crane, 9th March 2019. Common Crane, 9th March 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

Last year I had seen 66 species by the end of March, but this year I am at only 53 species. I did a comparison of species seen last year and it is an obvious fact that, apart from my absence for some of the time,  the lack of rainfall this Winter / Early Spring has been a major factor in this. The majority of species seen were ducks and waders that frequented the pond. On March 19th I estimated that the water level in the pond which I observe regularly was about 40 cm lower than last year, probably equivalent to the levels of last June. At the end of March, the levels seemed equivalent to those of last July - although admittedly last year's levels were higher than in previous years. As I type this, I estimate that the last section holding water has only maybe one or two more days left now.

Brimstone butterfly. Photo: Steve Jones

As Spring and Summer progress it will be interesting to see if this has much of a bearing on emerging dragonflies and the minute froglets that emerge in May. The early March temperatures have brought out most of the butterflies one would expect to see: Red Admiral (pretty well on the wing all year round), Orange Tip, Brimstone, Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady and more recently Scare Swallowtail and Swallowtail. I also saw Small Copper and Bath White butterflies on the wing around March 19th.

My photographs are intended as records for me with the occasional one being quite good, easily recognisable for the interested readers. I was quite fortunate to have got a picture of Two Cranes in early March, these are big birds and wouldn’t tolerate me within 50 metres. Anxious not to make them fly I managed a couple of pictures from a distance.

Common cranes. Photo: Steve Jones

On March 12th there was an interesting sight down at the pond – about 60 -70 Hooded crows all together, the most I have seen here in one go. While I know some breed here I am wondering if these are moving through and go on to breed elsewhere. You can clearly make out the two cranes amongst the vegetation.

Hooded crows and cranes. Photo: Steve Jones

Blackcaps were in full song in the middle of March, probably themost prominent among the songbirds at that point in time. This picture of the Yellow Wagtail was pure chance, there was a recently ploughed field down near the pond with 50 – 60 Pied Wagtails feeding, and amongst them were two Yellow Wagtails.

Yellow Wagtail. Photo: Steve Jones

Similarly a Corn Bunting, once again I was quite fortunate he obliged as I took this from the car. As I type this there are three Corn Buntings now singing in the patch I visit daily. Anybody interested enough could see one calling on the road that passes the airfield, on the macadam section, on the right, about 50 metres after the end of the tarmac (heading away from Vrboska).

Corn Bunting. Photo: Steve Jones

In the past three years the Chiff Chaff has been singing very briefly and almost immediately moved on. This year there was a bird singing in a neighbour's garden in Dol for about ten days. Also a Mistle Thrush singing for about two days near my garden in Dol. On the 14th March I spotted a Sparrowhawk catching a Pied Wagtail. Unfortunately, the picture isn't as clear as it might be, but it gives an idea of what the Sparrowhawk feeds on.

Sparrowhawk capturing Pied Wagtail. Photo: Steve Jones

On March 19th I saw the first two swallows of the year. I was really pleased on 21st March that I recorded a new species for me on the Island. A Redstart – I don’t understand why I don’t see more as Black Redstarts overwinter on the island.

Black Redstart. Photo: Steve Jones

I have put two pictures up so that you can see the differences. That said, I haven’t been lucky enough to capture a male Black Redstart in breeding plumage but you should be able to see the differences in the two pictures.

Redstart. Photo: Steve Jones

The overwintering birds departed around 24th, I have only glimpsed one bird since that time.

As some of you may have heard, the Scops Owl returned in March. I was alerted by Vivian in Pitve that she heard two Scops on the evening of the 18th. Me, in Dol 24th!

Scops Owl. Photo: Steve Jones

On 25th March I got my first half-decent picture of a Linnet, which I am sharing for the record, although I hope for a better shot in the future!

Linnet. Photo: Steve Jones

Finally a bird which always causes you to look twice, as it's surprisingly well camouflaged…………………………..

Hoopoe. Photo: Steve Jones

My first sighting of this year was on March 24th.

Hoopoe, 24th March 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

The listing of species observed up to March:

© Steve Jones 2019

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