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
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