Birdwatch April - May 2024

We are delighted that Steve Jones paid the island a bird-watching visit this spring and has shared his sightings with us.

Bee-eater Bee-eater Photo: Steve Jones

Birdwatch Otok Hvar 29/4 – 8/5/2024

This year I purposely came a week later than last time in order to see BeeEaters which hadn’t arrived last year by the time I left. I was not disappointed.

However, first I'll mention notable absences: Alpine Swift, I don’t want to say they weren’t there but I didn’t see any and I cannot remember not seeing any on previous visits. Similarly, Corn Bunting: I saw and heard one bird, but these are normally one of the most common by the pond and in and around the fields I visit, so I was disappointed. I did not hear many Serins either, which used to be regular visitors to the trees by the small church in Dol, but they were not there. Finally the BeeEaters, Yes they were there but I am concerned as to where they can nest. For several years they had nested at Gringos boatyard in Jelsa. The habitat looks the same but after three visits no sign of a bird, although I did hear some high up and not too far away. I found a few while I was cycling between Dol and Vrbanj. They were a bit distant, I took a couple of pictures for reference. I do wonder perhaps with the new supermarkets in the area, they've lost their habitat around the Jelsa petrol station and perhaps they've lost food sources too, this is just guessing with no evidence.

Bee-eater in flight. Photo: Steve Jones

On April 30th I was really pleased to get a good picture of a Cirl Bunting.

Cirl Bunting. Photo: Steve Jones

Another highlight was a successful chance photograph of a spotted flycatcher.

Spotted flycatcher. Photo: Steve Jones

As most of you know I do all my bird watching in and around Dol Svete Ane plus Stari Grad plain footpaths and probably the most important site is the pond at Dračevice. This year I purposely visited Dračevice at different times of the day, sometimes twice but it made little difference. That said, it certainly did not disappoint, but what was interesting this time I did not see more than two species of bird at the same time.

Nightingale. Photo: Steve Jones

On my first day after a visit to the PBZ bank in Jelsa, I saw House Martins already feeding their young. I stopped at the Café Bar Splendid and exactly as last year I heard a Blue Rock Thrush calling. Last year I glimpsed it there, while this year it was out of sight but it was certainly within 100 metres of the PBZ bank on Jelsa's main square. As I was biking around I think the most common bird in song was the Blackcap, followed by the Nightingale – a bird heard often but seldom seen. I managed a poor picture this year. In the fields and footpaths of Stari Grad plain I would suggest the most obvious singing came from Sardinian Warblers and Sub-Alpine Warblers. Even after all this time I still get confused with their individual songs although I can narrow them down to one of the two.

Sardinian Warbler. Photo: Steve Jones

30th brought a new arrival at Soline, Turtle Doves, they certainly weren’t calling the previous day. This year I didn’t get a picture, and only saw three of them during the trip.
1st May brought my only sighting of a Hoopoe, I did hear them calling but generally in olive fields in and around Dol and I don’t like to casually walk in to private property unless I ask somebody first.

Golden oriole. Photo: Steve Jones

2nd May I was out early morning near Konoba Kokot trying to track down and photograph a Golden Oriole, I saw it and indeed got a picture but it was a bit distant. A better picture followed later in the week. Whilst walking out I managed a picture of a very obliging Whitethroat so I was delighted with that.

Common Whitethroat. Photo: Steve Jones

Riding my bike through Vrbanj, I could hear a Blue Rock Thrush singing. I got off my bike and eventually tracked it down. Once again I managed a poor picture but enough for confirmation. It was singing from the very top of the spire on Vrbanj church.

Blue Rock Thrush. Photo: Steve Jones

Dračevice was definitely the place to be over the whole period. I think birds pass over, see water and land but are gone the next day, or so it seemed. Wood Sandpipers seemed to be there at various times during the day and every day. The first day 29/4 there were three Wood Sandpipers and this year they let me get surprisingly close so I managed some decent pictures.

Wood Sandpipers. Photo: Steve Jones

Also on 29th there was a Black headed Yellow Wagtail. On May 2nd I had a new species for me on the island and indeed a first for me anywhere. I sent picture off to three friends in UK to ID it. This was clearly exciting and at the time a star bird – it was a Temmincks Stint. A very small plain looking wader and even the call when it flew was quiet.

Blackheaded Yellow Wagtail. Photo: Steve Jones
Temmincks Stint. Photo: Steve Jones

It had disappeared on 3/5 but replaced by a pair of Black Winged Stilts. Not a first for me on the island but a first at Dračevice. I saw a Wheatear on my way back up to Dol, the only one I saw but I suspect like Redstarts and Stonechats they could have passed through.

Black-winged Stilt. Photo: Steve Jones

4/5 brought nothing new except a Blue Tit in Dol. I discovered a pair of Great Tits also feeding young in Dol. 5/5 This for me was probably the bird of the week once again at the pond. Definitely another first for the island, a Glossy Ibis  Although I had seen the species before, I had never seen it in breeding plumage. I got plenty of pictures but most obscured by vegetation. Like the Black Winged Stilts the Ibis wasn’t there on the following day.

Glossy Ibis. Photo: Steve Jones

6/5 brought another new species for the week, a Squacco Heron. I had seen this before at Dračevice but this bird was far more wary of me than the others. I managed several pictures but partially obscured. The Temminks Stint also returned, albeit briefly.

Squacco Heron. Photo: Steve Jones

I was very pleased with the overall numbers of species identified, I totaled 42 over the period of my visit. The bird species are there but you don’t always see them, visiting frequently certainly increases your chances. So, until the next time!

The list of species seen during this visit in spring 2024:
1 -Scops / ćuk
2- house sparrow / vrabac
3- golden oriole / vuga
4- nightingale / slavuj
5- blackcap / crnokapa grmuša
6- great tit /velika sjenica
7- cuckoo / kukavica
8- serin / žutarica
9- cirl bunting / crnogria strnadica
10- swift / čiopa
11- swallow / lastavica
12- house martin / plijak
13- bee-eater / pčelarica
14- red backed shrike / rusi svračak
15- blue rock thrush / modrokos
16- blackbird / kos
17- yellow-legged gull / galeb klaukavac
18- wood sandpiper / prutka migavica
19- yellow wagtail / žuta pastirica
20- Sardinian warbler / crnoglava grmuša
21- hooded crow / siva vrana
22- sub-alpine warbler / bjelobrka grmuša
23- woodchat shrike / riđoglavi svračak
24- buzzard / škanjac
25- sparrowhawk / kobac
26- pallid swift / smeđa čiopa
27- turtle dove / grlica
28- hoopoe / pupavac
29- kestrel / vjetruša
30- corn bunting / velika strnadica
31- whitethroat / grmuša pjenica
32- temmincks stint / sijedi žalar, teminckov žalar
33- black-winged stilt / vlastelica
34- blue tit / plavetba sjenica
35- wheatear / sivkasta bjeloguza
36- chaffinch / zeba
37- greenfinch / zelendur
38- pied wagtail /bijela pastirica
39- glossy ibis / blistavi ibis
40- squacco heron / žuta čaplja
41- whinchat / smeđoglavi batić
42- spotted flycatcher / muharica

Overall I'm happy with that!


© Steve Jones, May 2024.



You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch April - May 2024

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Farmed kelp could produce plastic substitutes, beauty products and food supplements. Just steer clear of seaweed chocolate

    Think sun, sea, Skye – and seaweed. It’s early summer off the west coast of Scotland, and Alex Glasgow is landing a long string of orangey-black seaweed on to the barge of his water farm. It emerges on what looks like a washing line heavy with dirty rags, hoicked up from the depths. And yet, this slippery, shiny, salty substance might, just might, be going to save the planet.

    When it comes to sustainability, seaweed is about as shipshape as it gets. Minimal damage to the environment, check. No use of pesticides, check. Diversifies ocean life, check. Uses no land, check. And, in the case of Skye’s seaweed farm, spoils no one’s view, check.

    Kyla Orr and Martin Welch of KelpCrofters check the crop from their boat

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  • Most comprehensive analysis ever of conflict-driven climate impacts shows emissions greater than those generated by 175 countries in a year

    The climate cost of the first two years of Russia’s war on Ukraine was greater than the annual greenhouse gas emissions generated individually by 175 countries, exacerbating the global climate emergency in addition to the mounting death toll and widespread destruction, research reveals.

    Russia’s invasion has generated at least 175m tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent (tCO2e), amid a surge in emissions from direct warfare, landscape fires, rerouted flights, forced migration and leaks caused by military attacks on fossil fuel infrastructure – as well as the future carbon cost of reconstruction, according to the most comprehensive analysis ever of conflict-driven climate impacts.

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  • Diving with marine life such as blue sharks is growing in popularity in the UK, spurred by footage of encounters on social media

    We have only been waiting in the grey Atlantic swell a few moments when the first flash of metallic blue appears in the water. A blue shark, a few miles from the coast of Penzance in Cornwall, emerges from the depths. It is time to get in the water – but part of my brain rebels.

    “It’s not what you think it will be like … not that ingrained fear that everyone has about sharks. But until you get in the water with them, that fear will remain,” the guide says to the group.

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  • Bangalow Koalas and private landholders have planted more than 377,000 trees across the region

    In 2016 a friend phoned Linda Sparrow about a 400-metre stretch of koala trees on the western edge of Bangalow, a small regional town in northern New South Wales.

    The landscape in the region had long since been cut back by loggers and farmers, and there were precious few eucalyptus trees left to provide refuge for koalas looking for food or shelter.

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  • Hexton, Hertfordshire: On the chalk hills in early summer, green is dominant – but only until the yellows take over

    The rain-soaked chalk hills are a celebration of green: the green of crimped agrimony leaves and glaucous sedge blades; of horsetail, hogweed and unripe wayfaring berries. Greenery everywhere, energising everything. I hear it in the whitethroat’s scratchy bursts, see it in sunlight on spent cowslips and feel it in the pull of my breath as I climb the hill. I wonder if it’s the heightened sensitivity of the human eye to green light that has brought on this verdant synaesthesia. Whatever the reason, the intensity of colour fuses and confuses my senses, making it hard to spot the green orchids I’ve come here to see.

    But as the path narrows, the abundance of orchids – all of them common twayblades (Neottia ovata) – is such that I almost tread on one. Kneeling in the grass for a closer look, I can see inflorescences rising from pairs of egg-shaped leaves, each with a slender downy stem and green flowers held aloft on short stalks. Every year I’m astonished by the huge personalities of these miniature blooms. The labellum (the lower modified petal) is deeply forked like a pair of legs, and banded with two dark green stripes that mark a nectar-bearing groove.

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  • Captive breeding in Norway has built up numbers endangered by the climate crisis and golden eagles but only a more diverse population will survive in the long term

    Deep in the Norwegian mountains, amid a vast expanse of bright snow and howling winds, Toralf Mjøen throws a piece of meat into a fenced enclosure and waits for a pair of dark eyes to appear from the snowy den.

    These curious and playful arctic foxes know Mjøen well. He has been the caretaker at this breeding facility for 17 years, going up the mountain daily to feed them at their enclosures near the small village of Oppdal, about 250 miles north of Oslo.

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  • Many people fear the UK’s draughty old properties are too great a challenge for the technology

    Heat pumps could be the single largest step a household can take to reduce their carbon emissions while saving money on their bills. But many in Britain fear that, even though millions of homes across Europe have benefited from the shift away from gas or oil boilers, the UK’s draughty old homes could prove too great a challenge for the technology.

    The concern is unsurprising given that the UK has some of the least energy efficient homes in Europe. A study by the smart home company tado° monitored 80,000 users across Europe to find how quickly properties lose heat when outdoor temperatures fall to zero. It found that UK homes lost on average 3C after five hours without heating, compared with just 1C in Germany and 0.9C in Norway.

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  • Pennsylvania families worry about rising cases of rare cancer with well pads near homes and stalled House bills

    One evening in 2019, Janice Blanock was scrolling through Facebook when she heard a stranger mention her son in a video on her feed. Luke, an outgoing high school athlete, had died three years earlier at age 19 from Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone cancer.

    Blanock had come across a live stream of a community meeting to discuss rare cancers that were occurring with alarming frequency in south-western Pennsylvania, where she lives.

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  • Porto Alegre’s poorest neighborhoods, often closest to rivers and with the worst infrastructure, bore brunt of crisis

    It had been raining for nearly a week when the floodwaters first reached Marcelo Moreira Ferreira’s home in Porto Alegre, the capital of Brazil’s southernmost state, Rio Grande do Sul.

    His wife and their four children left to seek shelter with relatives, but Ferreira, 51, wanted to stay: his father had built the modest one-storey structure and he had lived there his entire life.

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  • Having created a watchdog for the environment, the government took its teeth out and muzzled it. Can public outrage rouse the Environment Agency to action?

    When Helen Nightingale joined the National Rivers Authority, the predecessor to the Environment Agency, in 1991, she thought of her work as a calling. She had been fascinated by nature since she was a child, when she used to poke around in the earth on her father’s allotment, looking for worms and beetles. In her job, Nightingale spent most of her time walking along the rivers in Lancashire and Merseyside, taking water samples and testing oxygen levels. She was responsible for protecting rivers, and she often learned about sewage and pesticide pollution from members of the public who called a dedicated hotline. “They’d phone you up and say, ‘There’s something wrong.’ And you would go out straight away,” she recalled. “You stood a much better chance of figuring out what was wrong if you could get there quickly.”

    Nightingale, who has a Lancastrian accent and curly blond hair, investigated pollution like a hard-nosed police detective inspecting a crime scene. She would visit dairy farms, industrial estates and sewage treatment plants, dressed in a raincoat and boots with steel toe caps, and usually started with the same question: “Can I look at your drains?” The work was demanding, and the pay, when Nightingale started, was just £9,500 a year (the UK average at the time was around £12,000), but she was proud to be protecting the environment. “It was a dream job,” she told me. “If we sat in the office, our boss would say, ‘Why are you here? Go out and look at something.’”

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Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds

  • A landmark treaty to protect the world’s oceans could go into effect soon — but experts argue it must consider climate change if it is going to succeed.

  • The ocean feeds us, regulates our climate and sustains economies. Yet numerous threats are devastating the health of marine ecosystems. In honor of World Oceans Day, we take a dive into efforts that are charting anew course for our oceans.

  • It’s easy to take what happens under our feet for granted.

    Whether you know it or not, thousands of species of mites and springtails are scurrying about the soil like tiny essential workers. By feasting on and excreting decaying matter, like leaves and wood, these critters move planet-warming carbon into the soil, improve its structure and supply nutrients that help plants grow.

    But scientists are digging up new findings that show heat and drought, often exacerbated by climate change, are taking a massive toll on mites and springtails, Sofia Quaglia reported for The New York Times.

    When the soil dries up, so too do their soft bodies. Using data from 38 studies on mites and springtails, researchers found that prolonged dry spells can slash their numbers by an average of 39 percent. And a one degree Celsius rise in temperature can cause a nearly 10 percent drop in springtail populations.

    “They really do bad,” Gerard Martínez-De León, an ecologist at the University of Bern, told The New York Times. “If there are very high temperatures for, let’s say, one week, two weeks, one month, this affects them directly. Probably as much as the lack of moisture does.”

    Though the underground world is incredibly rich — harboring more than half of Earth’s biodiversity — soils, and the critters that live in them, are understudied. And that lack of understanding might be the biggest problem facing soil invertebrates, Quaglia writes. If we don’t know how species contribute to the ecosystem, we don’t know what will happen if they’re lost.

    “Soil has been like a black box,” Leticia Pérez-Izquierdo, researcher at the Basque Center for Climate Change and co-author of the study, told The New York Times. “And we’re now starting to open it.”

    Everything we do know points to the critical role healthy soils, and the organisms living them, play in stabilizing the climate.

    Take fungi. A Conservation International study found that intricate underground fungal networks work together with plants to absorb massive amounts of carbon — equivalent to more than a third of the world's annual fossil fuel emissions.

    Conservation and restoration activities that protect soil are becoming increasingly urgent. The United Nations has warned that 90 percent of the Earth’s topsoil — where crops, forests and more grow — could be degraded by 2050, in part due to intensive farming practices. Degraded soil not only stores less carbon, contributing to climate change, but it also is less drought tolerant — which, in turn, makes it more vulnerable to climate change.

    Fortunately, there are ways to break this downward spiral. For example, land management practices like no-till farming, sustainable grazing and planting cover crops can enhance agricultural production, increase soil fertility and boost carbon storage, while reducing the loss of topsoil through erosion. That’s a win-win-win for people and the planet.

    Further reading:

  • There’s only one place on Earth where reef manta rays are truly thriving. A new study finds that this manta haven is even more special — and threatened — than previously thought.

  • Fishing is a way of life in Peru. But one of it's most important fisheries is not immune from human-made pressures like overfishing and mining. Now, a new protected area is offering a new lease on life.

  • Our health is personal, but health risks are not. Around the world, entire populations — both human and wildlife — are facing new health challenges, all driven by the same culprit: environmental degradation.

  • Around the world, more than 3 billion people have been affected by extreme weather over the past 20 years — but those impacts are very unevenly distributed, according to a new Conservation International study.

  • A bold initiative to regrow 73 million trees in the Brazilian Amazon has made substantial progress despite some unexpected hurdles, according to an upcoming report.

  • On a tiny island in the Philippines, fishermen and green sea turtles live side by side in hard-earned harmony. That wasn’t always the case. Slowly and steadily, they have returned, a story of against-the-odds compromise.

  • On an expedition to Bolivia's Zongo Valley, a team of researchers recently discovered 20 species completely new to science, and rediscovered several species that had not been seen for decades.