Birdwatch, March 2017

An active month for Steve Jones. An unexpected turtle appears, and interesting birds are coming and going on Hvar!

Turtle Turtle Photo: Steve Jones

Steve reports from Dol:

March has proved to be far more fruitful than I was expecting going on last year's notes. Migrants seem to be arriving earlier. There were also several “firsts” for the island, that I have seen. This does not mean they haven‘t visited before, just that it's the first time I've seen them. I am guessing that some of these were passing on through, as a couple I have only glimpsed briefly, but also, fortunately, I have managed to photograph them.

Blue rock thrush. Photo: Steve Jones

If you are on Hvar, you will have noticed the birds singing, particularly as we hit the end of March. Around my house as I worked outside I was hearing Great Tit, Blackcap, Cirl Bunting, Blue Rock Thrush. I have also seen Blackbirds carrying food, so they were clearly feeding their young.

On to my sightings for the month, early March proved as expected: the odd Mistle Thrush, Fieldfare and Starlings were still around. I thought I saw a Song Thrush but all too quickly I’m afraid, and I don’t like to add any bird to my list of sightings unless I am 100% certain. On 3rd March I had superb views of the Hen Harrier in flight but that was the last time I saw it.

On 9th March I saw a Sandpiper of some kind – this was a first for me, and after scanning through the books and getting confirmation from a couple of friends, I am pleased to say it was, as I thought, a Green Sandpiper. I was expecting it to move on quickly, as the indications are they breed far further north, so I was pleasantly surprised to see this sandpiper numerous times during the month, even as late as 30th March.

Green sandpiper. Photo: Steve Jones

Also on March 9th I saw a Turtle doing a bit of sun bathing. As with the Green Sandpiper it wouldn’t let me get too close before submerging, but I did manage to come up with a picture or two! I’m not 100% sure on the ID but as far as I can tell it is the “Yellow Bellied Slider”. My guess is this was a pet at some point that has been deposited in the pond.*(see footnote)

On the same day I managed a very brief glimpse of a Stonechat, but as I have not seen one since, I suspect this may have been passing through. On March 10th I saw a Sardinian Warbler, once again a puzzle. I’m not sure whether or not this was passing through, I have suspected they may over-winter on Hvar, albeit in very small numbers. On 11th March I saw my first Wheatear, no time for a photograph at the time, but I managed several shots towards the end of the month.

Hoopoe. Photo: Steve Jones

On 19th March I went to Humac early just to see if there was anything different calling that I am not hearing on my patch, but in fairness I was pretty disappointed. There were numerous Chaffinches singing, the odd Great Tit and a solitary Robin. So back down to the airfield vicinity and my first Corn Bunting of the year, also a Heron and two Grey Wagtails. Just as I was leaving at 09:30, I spotted my first Swallow of the year flying over the pond. The Green Sandpiper was still there, as well as the striped turtle / terrapin. (Some of the species I am picking up here are also being sighted in the UK now – such as Sand Martin, Cuckoo, Swallow).

20th March: Great Tits calling all over the place, but I haven't managed to take a decent photo of any. In the morning I thought I heard a Nightingale. It was only singing intermittently, which might be a sign that it had just arrived.

On 22nd March I thought I heard the Blue Rock Thrush. I didn’t see one at all last year, so I was not 100% sure but as the month progressed i heard it again, whether another or possibly the same one calling very near my house, especially on March 31st, when he was very obliging!

Also on 22nd March I saw a male Reed Bunting, not quite in full breeding plumage. Once again I suspect it was just passing through, as it was another first for me on the Island. I also heard a Greenfinch in Dol on the same day.

On 26th March I heard and saw a Sub Alpine Warbler, a bird which so far has escaped the camera. As they are territorial I picked up the call again on most mornings from the same location, and hopefully I will get a picture worth publishing some time.

Yellow wagtail. Photo: Steve Jones

27th March – without any doubt my best day bird watching since being here. I had seen all of the birds here before, but to get them all in one morning! I was very very pleased. My first Kestrel of the year, followed by Sub Alpine Warbler, Corn Bunting, Green Sandpiper, Serin, Yellow Wagtail and to cap it off as I was driving towards Stari Grad a Hoopoe right in front of the car.

Hoopoe. Photo: Steve Jones

On 30th March I saw an Alpine Swift. They were here last year, so they were not a new species for me, but nevertheless I was rather pleased to have seen it before a normal Swift.

If anyone is seeing anything else here please do let me know via the Eco Hvar contact email. I am particularly sticking to two areas only, so of course I don’t think for a second I am picking up everything on the island.

Finally, a selection of pictures taken in March: Greenfinch, Stonechat, Heron, Cirl Bunting (female), Reed Bunting and finally Wheatear.

March birds, selection. Photos: Steve Jones

FIRST SIGHTINGS IN MARCH BRING THE TOTAL FOR THE YEAR SO FAR TO 53

First sightings in March 2017

© Steve Jones, 2017

* Footnote from Eco Hvar. Turtles are native to Hvar, although they are rarely seen, so this one may have been wild rather than someone's pet!

For more of Steve's nature pictures, see his personal pages: Bird Pictures on Hvar 2017, and Butterflies of Hvar

 

You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch, March 2017

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Plastic Waste Makers index identifies those driving climate crisis with virgin polymer production

    Twenty companies are responsible for producing more than half of all the single-use plastic waste in the world, fuelling the climate crisis and creating an environmental catastrophe, new research reveals.

    Among the global businesses responsible for 55% of the world’s plastic packaging waste are both state-owned and multinational corporations, including oil and gas giants and chemical companies, according to a comprehensive new analysis.

    Continue reading...

  • Controversial deal with China would be ‘disastrous’ for fishing and protected rainforest, say opponents

    A $55m (£39m) deal struck by the government of Sierra Leone with China to build an industrial fishing harbour on 100 hectares (250 acres) of beach and protected rainforest has been criticised as “a catastrophic human and ecological disaster” by conservationists, landowners and rights groups.

    The gold and black sands of Black Johnson beach fringe the African nation’s Western Area Peninsula national park, home to endangered species including the duiker antelope and pangolins. The waters are rich in sardines, barracuda and grouper, caught by local fishermen who produce 70% of the fish for the domestic market.

    Continue reading...

  • Our emotional register – how ‘doomy’ or ‘hopeful’ we are – will inevitably shape the policies we put forward

    As the climate emergency creeps closer to the top of the political agenda, where it belongs, an argument is raging over communication. Exactly what to say about the environmental crisis, and how, is an important question for all sorts of people and organisations, including governments. It is particularly pressing for journalists, authors and broadcasters. For us, communication is not an adjunct to other activities such as policymaking or campaigning. It is our main job.

    People need to know what is happening to glaciers, forests and endangered species, and what is being done about this. But information requires interpretation. And while editorial judgments influence the way that all subjects are covered, storytelling about the climate emergency is particularly fraught.

    Continue reading...

  • Project turns trophy hunters’ hit list into a conservation tool – and reveals the animals we most want to see caught on camera

    For trophy hunters, the big five are the toughest, most dangerous animals to kill, but a photography project has turned the meaning of shooting on its head, creating a new list of the five most fantastic creatures to capture on camera.

    More than 50,000 people from around the world voted for animals they most liked seeing pictures of as part of the New Big 5 wildlife photography list. The crowning creatures are elephant, lion, polar bear, gorilla and tiger, all of which are keystone species listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as either critically endangered, endangered or vulnerable.

    Continue reading...

  • Researchers find road blocks that we’d already accepted before introduction of divisive low-traffic neighbourhoods

    At least 25,000 traffic filters similar to those found in low-traffic neighbourhoods already exist across the UK, research has shown, with campaigners saying it proves both the efficacy of such schemes and the futility of demands to scrap them.

    Dozens have been built in cities over the last year by councils seeking to boost walking and cycling levels during the coronavirus pandemic, prompting a sometimes frenzied level of debate.

    Continue reading...

  • Investigation reveals that ‘plastic waste coming from the UK to Turkey is an environmental threat, not an economic opportunity’

    Turkey has become the latest destination for British plastic waste, which ends up dumped, burned or left to pollute the ocean, a Greenpeace investigation has found.

    More than half of the plastic the British government says is being recycled are sent overseas, often to countries without the necessary infrastructure to do so. The UK exported 688,000 tonnes of discarded plastic packaging in 2020, a daily average of 1.8m kilos. Just 486,000 tonnes were recycled in the UK.

    Continue reading...

  • Wolf Edge, Staffordshire:This blackbird in disguise is scarce and getting scarcer – but that doesn’t fully explain its addictive appeal

    For the tenth time this spring, I’ve come here to catch sight of migrating ring ouzels. I suspect that of all the species that trigger impassioned responses among birdwatchers, this is the bird least known to the British public.

    The simplest explanation for both these responses is that ring ouzels are wild, upland loners that are getting scarcer almost annually. Today, there are 15,000 spread thinly from northern Scotland to Cornwall. Writing 108 years ago, WH Hudson described finding 40 to 50 breeding pairs near this spot. Now, I doubt I could take you to more than one.

    Continue reading...

    • Florida scientists use juvenile bonnetheads for research
    • Authors say findings applicable to other ocean-going sharks

    Scientists in Florida have concluded that sharks possess an internal navigation system similar to GPS that allows them to use Earth’s magnetic forces to travel long distances with accuracy.

    Related:Below the surface: reports of rising shark attacks don't tell the whole story

    Continue reading...

  • In April, documentary photographer and film-maker Conor Ashleigh walked the gangplank of the research vessel Falkor in Darwin to begin a 21-day journey as part of an expedition with the Schmidt Ocean Institute. Having never spent more than a day or two at sea, Ashleigh felt as though he were heading into the unknown. There he discovered intriguing creatures in a seascape of vibrant colours in the pristine waters of Ashmore marine park in the Timor Sea

    Continue reading...

  • It’s hoped a 12-year trial in Devon will persuade policymakers to back silvopasture to benefit the soil, livestock and climate

    Andy Gray stands beside an enormous hill of bare red earth and smiles with a hint of mischief. This is his best field, its soils known as Crediton red land. The region was once known for producing swedes prized by Covent Garden market. Now, every six metres, planted in rows 14 metres apart, stands a tree guard shielding a young oak, aspen or alder.

    “You can grow anything on it and I’m planting trees,” says Gray, a 16th-generation Devon farmer. “I’m seen as the fool on the hill. One neighbour said ‘you might as well concrete it over and build houses’. They could be right. Who knows?”

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds