Birdwatch, May 2019

Published in Nature Watch

Spring-time report from Steve Jones of Dol.

Black-Winged Stilt Black-Winged Stilt Photo: Steve Jones

For the latter part of April and early May I was in the UK so undoubtedly I missed some accurate dating of arrivals and potential sightings. That said on arriving back it was clear that Turtle Dove had returned as had the Red Backed Shrike. With the Red Backed Shrike I am little disappointed in the returning numbers, particularly near Dol. Last year I knew of three nests and certainly two nests had fledged young, one of which was in my garden. I assumed they would have returned but no evidence of that. I have seen two or three pairs around Dol but nowhere close by that I am aware. The bird box I made a few years ago was occupied with Great Tits, they laid ten eggs that had just hatched before I went to the UK, as I reported in April. I was afraid I would miss them, but when I came back there were five birds that had reached fledging stage, and they left the box on 11th May.

Inside the nesting box. Photo: Steve Jones

On Sunday May 12th the heavens opened, a neighbour recorded 110mm of rain. Clearly this made up for the lack of Winter rainfall. On May 13th I had never seen the pond so high and indeed with continuing poor weather throughout the rest of the month the water levels have remained so high apart from Grey Heron and passing Swallows, Swifts and Martins, nothing else has been there. This may prove interesting later in the season when birds pass by returning to their winter destinations.

Flooding! Photo: Steve Jones

 In addition to the pond being full it also flooded nearby fields and this has proved to a great source of species for many days. On the 13th I had never seen so many Swallows and Sand Martins, I would suggest up to about 200 birds constantly flying over picking up insects lying on or over the water. Amongst them were Yellow Wagtail and occasional Linnet. 

Waders needed! May 14th 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

May 15th brought in two Terns which were new to me and obviously a new sighting for the island. I am afraid I don’t have have decent pictures in flight which enabled me to identify the birds initially – these were White Winged Black Terns.

White-Winged Black Tern. Photo: Steve Jones

As the fields were so flooded I had to wade out 200-300 metres and at times water just below the tops of my wellingtons – the things we do for a record!!

Wetland, 14th May 2019. Photo: Steve Jones

These had gone by May 17th only to be replaced by four Black Winged Stilts. Not a species new to me but a new species for me to record on the Island, although there had been a sighting in Soline/Vrboska as I recall in 2016.

Black-Winged Stilt. Photo: Steve Jones

Also on May 17th a returning Black Headed Bunting, this is always one of the last birds to arrive. I am still not 100% sure that they breed here although I seem to see at least one every year, sometime I might only see it one time though. This year I have been fortunate that it was singing quite near the airfield and didn’t seem to mind me too much.

Black-Headed Bunting. Photo: Steve Jones
In addition to the Black winged Stilts which stayed for about four days were a few small waders. I identified four as Little Stints but there was another which was new to me and I had to ask help with the ID of this but three colleagues all came back with Curlew Sandpiper. As you can see not the greatest picture to work from. Although the flood waters still remain quite high the birds seem to have moved on except for three Little Egrets and Two Grey Heron.
Curlew Sandpiper. Photo: Steve Jones

May 21st brought in another species for the year which was the Squacco Heron, once again it found the water but probably not enough food to keep it going for very long. It stayed for around four days and whilst it wouldn’t tolerate me wading in the water too close to it, I managed to get a few pictures.

Squacco Heron. Photo: Steve Jones

May 24th brought another new species for the year. Not great pictures, but enough to identify the Red Footed Falcon.

Red-Footed Falcon. Photo: Steve Jones

Well as you can see quite a busy month, you can clearly see the results of the heavy rainfall. The last few days I have spent some time trying to track down a Cuckoo. In my patch I am hearing at least two males calling and probably three. In recent days I have heard a female on a couple of occasions. I am still at a loss as to what the host bird would be; Nightingale, Sardinian Warbler, Sub-Alpine Warbler or Corn Bunting perhaps?? I really have no idea but Sub-Alpine is definitely the most common of those species. It won’t be long before the Cuckoo depart but as to finding a potential host bird feeding a young Cuckoo is incredibly difficult. For those of you who don’t know Cuckoo, although I suspect most will know it’s call I have one very poor picture to leave you with taken on May 29th after 45 minutes of tracking it down.

Cuckoo. Photo: Steve Jones

My thanks to Jon Avon, Mike Southall and John Ball for ID on Curlew Sandpiper.

Already the calls on the ground in the day are starting to go quiet. However if people are interested in listening to the dawn chorus they seem ot be most active at about 04:40 hrs at the moment.

As always if anyone wants to forward sightings or even pictures I can be contacted through the web site or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

© 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
You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch, May 2019

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Biodiversity campaigner Isabella Tree says wild areas work ‘hand in glove’ with food production as her Sussex estate boasts return of endangered species

    The Knepp estate in West Sussex is home to the first white stork born in the wild in Britain for over 600 years. It’s a place where endangered bats, turtle doves and nightingales are thriving, where “officially extinct” large tortoiseshell butterflies are breeding and where tens of thousands of people visit each year to experience “a story of hope” about the resilience of nature in the face of the global climate emergency.

    There have been many exciting changes at Knepp since 2018, when Isabella Tree wrote Wilding, her award-winning book about rewilding an unprofitable 3,500-acre arable and dairy farm. Now she has written a captivating illustrated book, Wilding: How to Bring Wildlife Back – An Illustrated Guide,updating her readers about extraordinary developments at Knepp and offering practical advice about rewilding their own spaces, however small.

    Continue reading...

  • Near flooding of Henley-on-Thames building prompts decision to tell the story of climate crisis

    From the reconstructed riverside of The Wind in the Willows to an historic Georgian rowboat used in the inaugural Oxford-Cambridge race, the exhibits at the River and Rowing Museum celebrate the importance of British rivers.

    But the award-winning building in Henley-on-Thames – designed by the modernist architect David Chipperfield – is facing a significant threat from the very river beside which it resides.

    Continue reading...

  • Charity says the decline of invertebrates linked to chemicals in water while Environment Agency said Wiltshire river had not deteriorated


    A citizen science programme has revealed the decline of one of the country’s most significant chalk streamsafter claims by Environment Agency officials that it had not deteriorated. The SmartRivers programme run by the charity WildFish, which surveys freshwater invertebrates, reported “strong declines in relation to chemical pressure” on the River Avon in Wiltshire. It said its data indicated a decline in the condition of the river over the last five years.

    The charity compiled a report on its findings after the conservation groups say they were told at a meeting by the Environment Agency in August that “the Avon has not deteriorated in water quality in the last five years”. David Holroyd, head of water quality for Wiltshire Fishery Association, said the numbers of invertebrates collected in spring and autumn samples from 2019 and 2023 at 11 sites on the upper Avon had shown a decline.

    Continue reading...

  • Some projects to save species just don’t work. Now, a Cambridge University team is amassing hard scientific evidence of best practice

    It seemed like a good idea at the time: build metal bridges over busy roads and bats would confuse them with trees, it was argued. They would then try to soar over the pylons and, having been tricked into flying higher than normal, would avoid being struck by lorries and buses travelling on the road below. A widespread wildlife problem for the UK would be solved at a stroke.

    It was a persuasive vision, and to realise it, a total of £2m was spent on building 15 bat bridges across Britain, from Cumbria to Cornwall. “However, there was one problem,” said Professor William Sutherland of the Conservation Science Group at Cambridge University. “The bridges didn’t work.”

    Continue reading...

  • London minister Greg Hands embroiled in congestion and pollution debate with constituents over scheme in election battleground

    When the Tory minister Greg Hands criticised a trial scheme in his constituency to block the use of residential roads as rat runs, he might have expected to win some votes and boost his party’s pro-car agenda.

    Instead, he finds himself embroiled in a charged and divisive debate in his Chelsea and Fulham constituency, with a backlash from some Tories who back measures to curb traffic and introduce clean-air neighbourhoods.

    Continue reading...

  • A conference this week will discuss a market being transformed by green energy, LNG and milder winters

    Two vast shipping tankers stocked with liquefied natural gas (LNG) will glide up the Milford Haven Waterway this week to unload their cargo at the South Hook gas terminal in west Wales.

    As the Wilpride and Stiklestad – arriving from the US and Norway respectively – dock, energy industry leaders will meet 200 miles away in London, at a crucial juncture for the gas sector.

    Continue reading...

  • The extent of ice floating around the continent has contracted to below 2m sq km for three years in a row, indicating an ‘abrupt critical transition’

    For the third year in a row, sea ice coverage around Antarctica has dropped below 2m sq km – a threshold which before 2022 had not been breached since satellite measurements started in 1979.

    The latest data from the US National Snow and Ice Data Center confirms the past three years have been the three lowest on record for the amount of sea ice floating around the continent.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers say toxic chemicals pose a pollution risk as oil and gas companies are allowed to leave pipelines to rot

    Decaying oil and gas pipelines left to fall apart in the North Sea could release large volumes of poisons such as mercury, radioactive lead and polonium-210, notorious for its part in the poisoning of Russian defector Alexander Litvinenko, scientists are warning.

    Mercury, an extremely toxic element, occurs naturally in oil and gas. It sticks to the inside of pipelines and builds up over time, being released into the sea when the pipeline corrodes.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers hope the findings will inform policymakers planning cities for a warming world

    Few things are as soothing on a hot summer’s day as a walk through a beautiful botanical garden, but they are not just oases of calm. As climate breakdown fuels soaring temperatures, they could prove crucial in moderating the heat in the streets around them.

    A comprehensive review of research into the heat-mitigating effects of green spaces during heatwaves has found that botanical gardens are the most effective. It is a finding the team at the Global Centre for Clean Air Research (GCCAR) hope will inform policymakers planning cities for a warming world.

    Continue reading...

  • Bannau Brycheiniog, south Wales: I’ve got my map, my compass inherited from my granddad, and an extra coat. The race is on!

    I stand on a grassy slope, gazing at the impending mountain. Mist billows at its ridges, charging into the sky. I begin the climb upward towards the Bannau Brycheiniog mountain range.

    As the grass gives way to sandstone slabs, the air shifts and a coolness arrives. I check my supplies again. My compass, inherited from my grandad, a map, and extra coat are all in my bag. I need to be prepared for unpredictable weather. When I reach the crossway to the first peak, Corn Du, wisps of mist are spiralling alongside the track, beckoning me forwards. The steep climb begins and the race is on.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

  • It’s easy to understand why ambitious reforestation campaigns capture public attention. Earth’s forests are absolutely vital to staving off a climate crisis and protecting nature. But what about grasslands?

  • It’s a simple formula: More women in science equals more impactful and innovative science.

    Studies have found that scientific teams made up of women and men produce better research. Yet, of course, a persistent gender gap remains. Women make up about a third of the workforce in science, technology, engineering and math. And while there has been some progress in recent decades, it’s uneven. If current trends hold, it could take more than a century for women to be equally represented in fields like physics, math and engineering.

    For International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we are highlighting some of the women who power the science behind Conservation International’s work — changing conservation practices and informing critical policy decisions. Here, they share their passion for protecting nature — and their advice for the next generation of women scientists.

     

    Shannon Murphy

    Marine biologist, seascapes program manager, United States

    © Mark Erdmann

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    You need to be passionate about what you do. Always be open minded and listen to others.

    What do you love about your job?

    I love that I get to work with people around the world — I learn something new every day and I’m never bored.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Be kinder to yourself and have confidence that you deserve to be in the room.

     

    Anna Jean Haw

    Africa Rangelands Program manager, South Africa

    © Tom Kiptenai-Kemboi

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Keep your eyes open to opportunities and be clear on your values. You may not know your exact career path, but if you have clear values and passion, you will find a fulfilling journey — and it’s all about the journey.

    What do you love about your job?

    I love grappling with challenges and collaborating to find innovative solutions to complex problems. There is always more to learn and discover, especially in the natural world. Science and learning are a lifelong gift.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Don’t be afraid to shine…or fail. Find other women in STEM who can provide a supportive peer group to help you celebrate your successes and challenge you to do the hard stuff.

     

    Ret Thaung

    Wildlife conservationist and biodiversity manager, Cambodia

    © Kouy Socheat

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Seek out mentors and collaborators who support your growth — and, especially, never stop learning.

    What do you love about your job?

    I have the opportunity to engage with local communities and the younger generation, fostering a shared commitment to protecting our natural world. The experiences I’ve had in deep forests, places few people have the chance to visit, are truly special.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Be confident that you are enough and capable of doing great things. Take up space and don’t afraid to make connections with people who inspire you.

     

    Remesa Lang

    Forestry engineer, development and communications coordinator, Suriname

    © Devika Narain

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty and think outside the box. Never underestimate yourself. Embrace the challenges, be willing to take risks and trust in your ability to overcome obstacles.

    What do you love about your job?

    I love contributing to brainstorming sessions to develop new ideas. I have a genuine passion for learning and embrace the role of a multitasker.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    If you have a dream in mind, you must pursue it and believe that you can achieve it. Don't be afraid to try new things. Embrace the journey with confidence and determination.

     

    Luciano Andriamaro

    Senior Director Science and Knowledge, Madagascar

    © Luciano Andriamaro

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Love what you do and don’t hesitate to start small. As you progress, step by step, you will begin to see the value of the efforts you've made.

    What do you love about your job?

    In my 22 years at Conservation International, I have gone from coordinator, to technical manager, to senior director of science and knowledge in Madagascar. I work with a multidisciplinary team, and it is always a pleasure to learn from my colleagues. I am proud of the women on my team and I encourage them to do new things.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    You need patience, perseverance and conviction to know you’re on the right path. Have keep the courage to continue and always be optimistic that you will reach your goal.

     

    Elle Wibisono

    Fisheries scientist and policy fellow, Indonesia 

    © OceanX

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Be curious and always challenge your own assumptions.

    What do you love about your job?

    I get to learn new things all the time and meet the most brilliant (and fun) people.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    You can still be a scientist even though you feel inadequate as an undergraduate! Sometimes, even our brains are late bloomers.

     

    Cecilia Gutierrez

    Forestry engineer, social impact manager, Peru

    © Humberto Saco

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Adaptability, teamwork and ethics.

    What do you love about your job?

    Traveling to different countries and having the chance to see more than the typical tourist places — seeing “real” places and people that I otherwise would not know; experiencing their culture, their day-to-day living and the way they think.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Don't be afraid of trying. Just by trying you will feel more empowered and will gain a lot.

     

    Virginia Simpson

    Community conservation specialist and program manager, Australia

    © Virginia Simpson

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career? 

    Similar to what it takes to be successful in any career: tenacity, leaps of faith, and the willingness to learn and to back yourself as needed!

    What do you love about your job?

    The fact that I get to work on something that matters to me — and do it alongside such an amazing global team of people.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Know the worth of your skill set, and don’t go around comparing it unfavorably to other people’s.

     

    María Claudia Díazgranados Cadelo

    Marine biologist, senior director for the Blue Carbon program, Colombia

    © María Claudia Díazgranados Cadelo

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    You need to learn to understand people's different ways of working — to have patience and tolerance for the different situations that arise with colleagues and with external partners. We are all different, but those differences can enrich the work and make it more successful.

    What do you love about your job?

    I love the team I'm on, especially my supervisor whom I admire a lot. I like to try new things in places that need our work. Even though it is very complex, I know we are going to succeed in what we do. The challenges are interesting.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Few people put their heart and soul into what they do. But that doesn’t change the love and passion you put into every seed of a project or idea you plant at work. You will surely see many trees grow big and strong over the years.

     

    Carter Smith

    Wildlife ecologist, Sojourns program director, United States

    © Judy Holme Agnew

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career? 

    Hard work, a few bruises and dedication. 

    What do you love about your job?

    So many things; I pinch myself a lot. One thing I love is that my role offers a continual learning curve. If I ever get bored, that’s all on me. There’s lots to learn thanks to vast nature of Conservation International’s work around the globe. 

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Don’t be dissuaded by closed doors. Believe.  Really truly. It is half the battle. And never lose your sense of humor.

     

    Ana Guzman

    Biologist, executive director of the Costa Rica program, Costa Rica

    © Ana Guzman

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Success can take many shapes, but for me it means achieving your goals, being happy with your decisions and having no regrets.

    What do you love about your job?

    I love being a bridge between science and people — to advance actions that have a positive impact on local communities and witness the joy that comes from helping others.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Trust yourself, you know what’s best for you. It might not be the path people expected you to take but it will be the one you made for yourself. Own it!

     

    Natasha Calderwood

    Senior director carbon portfolio, United States

    © Natasha Calderwood

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    Remain curious and open-minded. Be prepared to challenge others’ views and think about how to apply your own learnings and experience in a different light. STEM careers help drive so much innovation in the world today but sometimes the best solution to a problem can be found by re-framing a tried and tested approach.

    What do you love about your job?

    Getting to work on a daily basis with people who are passionate, smart, authentic and driven to find solutions to our world’s toughest challenges.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Find what you are passionate about! If you love what you do the rest will come. Along the way don’t be afraid to experience different things, try out new skills and stretch outside of your comfort zone.

     

    Susan Vulpas

    Coastal ecologist, Indonesia program development advisor, Indonesia

    © Susan Vulpas

    What does it take to be successful in a STEM career?

    I think it means making strategic decisions about your job and being honest about the career you want to have and taking steps to get there. (I feel like I'm still working towards my ideal STEM career).

    What do you love about your job?

    That's an easy one. Field work is the best; it nurtures passion while keeping us motivated and connected to our conservation goals. I love being in the water in Indonesia, chatting with the field teams and partners, and experiencing the amazing places we are working to protect.

    As a woman in STEM, what advice would you give to your younger self?

    Believe that you have a place in STEM and keep working towards the career you want to have. Also keep learning from people whose work you find interesting.

     

    Vanessa Bauza is the editorial director at Conservation International. Want to read more stories like this? Sign up for email updates here. Donate to Conservation International here.

  • In the remote lowland forests of northwestern Bolivia, a small community has taken a big step to protect one of the Amazon’s most biodiverse regions.

  • When humans and elephants come into contact, the results can be deadly — and if climate change and habitat loss continue, a new study finds, things could get even worse.

  • Not long ago, the idea that nature could be humanity's ally against climate change was not widely known. In recent years that idea has increasingly moved into the mainstream. Perhaps unsurprisingly, that recognition has led to some confusion.

  • While it may seem unusual for a medical doctor to work for a conservation nonprofit, it's centered on a powerful premise: that human health and the protection of nature are inextricably linked.

  • This week, the United Nations holds its first global freshwater conference in nearly 50 years. In the years since, the global population has doubled — yet the challenges facing the health of, and access to, freshwater resources have been largely overshadowed by the climate and biodiversity crises.

  • Until self-quarantine ends, here are new shows, podcasts and more that can help bring nature to life for you, wherever you are.

  • In a recent article, the director of Conservation International's Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program explained why the COVID-19 pandemic affirms the need to respect the rights of Indigenous peoples.

  • Despite dire headlines, tropical forests are still among our best allies to fight climate change, an expert explains.