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Birdwatch, April 2019

Well, as we approached the end of another month, the birds kept arriving.

Little Egret, 15th April 2019. Little Egret, 15th April 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

When I was typing this on the 26th April I was at 67 species for the year. This time last year I note it was 78 species. I believe this was due to the low levels of water at the pond during February and March, as I reported previously. The heavy rain we had in April put some water back and indeed a few waders were to be seen, but nothing like the levels of 2018. On April 2nd I went down to the pond in the afternoon, and saw my first Greenshank of the year. It made me think how much I might be missing as the birds pass through. I had already visited the pond at 06:40, so it was just by chance I went again in the afternoon. Perhaps I ought to stay for a whole day!

Greenshank at the pond. Photo: Steve Jones

Corn Buntings were singing regularly as was the Sub-Alpine Warbler and occasional Sardinian Warbler. I was hearing up to three Cuckoos for some time, but their calling was not consistent and at the time of writing I hadn't heard them for  a few days. Great Tits built a nest in my garden which was pretty well complete by April 2nd. I set up a webcam on a nearby tree so that I could see the parents going in and out, but I was careful not to intrude, I didn't want to jinx anything! 

Hoopoe, 21st April 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

I have been seeing far more Hoopoes this year than in any previous year, one morning I saw five, three at the same time, and two at a different location, so I know for certain there were five separate birds. On 10th April I had a new experience on Hvar: a peacock suddenly crossed my path! I had been told by a hunter during the winter that there was a peacock about in a certain place over a few days, but when I went to see, there was no sign of it. And then, as I was heading out towards the pond on the morning of the 10th, there it was in front of me. I managed a quick picture, but it had hopped over a wall and disappeared as I tried to get a better one.

Peacock, 10th April 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

In Jelsa on April 17th I saw two House Martins on a nest  near the main car park. They didn't look like young birds, maybe they were just making use of an old nest.

House Martins on nest. Photo: Steve Jones

I had been worried about the Great Tit nest, as the parents were not visiting it. However, on April 16th the mother was sitting on her eggs again in the morning. I was thinking the cats might have had her as I had seen two different cats camped on top of the bird box. Anyhow all was looking well. By April 17th my Great Tit was definitely back on the eggs, and I was pleased to see that if I got too close to the box she hissed at me.

Yellow Wagtail, 17th April 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

Generally during the month I didn't see great numbers of any single species, apart from Swallows, but generally the birds were trickling through. However, on several occasions in April I saw up to 30 Yellow Wagtails (I included a photo of one in the March report). There are a lot of variations within this species, and I believe I have seen three different species here.

Yellow Wagtail, 17th April 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

By April 17th recent rains had put some water back into the pond, and I saw up to four waders. I was particularly fortunate this month to have had a very obliging Little Egret at the pond. Often any sight of movement or even my car is enough to put some species up to flight, particularly the small waders. In the photo you can clearly see the yellow feet which are used as a lure to attract fish.

Little Egret, 20th April 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

Without any doubt the highlight for me was a Wryneck. I had never seen one before although was aware of them. I was out on my bike approaching Vrboska from Jelsa and I heard a call I was not familiar with. It was on the opposite side so I was hoping I could get there before it flew off. Sadly I was looking into the sun but I managed to take a very poor photograph which was not really good enough to identify by. It flew off after a couple of minutes. On getting back home I described the call to a friend in the UK who immediately suggested Wryneck. I went back on two more occasions with no success. That said, when I was at Maestral in Stari Grad on the morning of April 25th, I heard the call again, so I dropped everything and just managed to get a departing shot - a poor photograph, but just enough to identify. It was a shame it didn't stay around longer, but at least I got a glimpse of it.

Wryneck. Photo: John Ball
I was told that the Scops Owl was making its presence felt all day every day in Pitve this month, as well as after dark, which seems slightly unusual. I have heard it calling during the day on occasion, and a couple of years ago managed to capture some daytime photographs.
Scops Owl in daylight. Photo: Steve Jones

On April 26th, I was out very early in the morning. Apart from the non-stop Nightingale, the first bird I heard in Dol was the Golden Oriole, which must have arrived in the night, as I had not heard one up to then. Also, very pleasingly, after three unrewarding  trips to Jelsa during the week, at last I witnessed the arrival of the Bee-Eaters. They were quite active, but I did manage to picture one as it landed.

Bee-eater, April 26th 2019. Photo: Steve Jones
By April 26th all ten Great Tits had hatched in their nesting box and were very busy feeding. I opened the box for a quick look, and there they were, two days old, with their mouths open. They will have fledged by the time I return from my travels, so I won’t actually know how many get away. What has proved interesting is that the nest box works ( I was always worried about local cats, particularly when I have seen two different ones sat on the top of the box with the mother inside. This might also prove interesting when they are both feeding young.) Also that it doesn’t have to be high, mine is only about 1m 60cm off the ground.
 
April's bird sightings, compared with last year:
 
© 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