Birdwatch, May 2017

After a brief absence from the island, Steve Jones caught up with the bird activities in May. Lots of early-summer action going on!

Purple heron Purple heron Photo: Steve Jones

Well, I came back from the UK on 7th May, and there were audible signs of new arrivals, most notably the Golden Oriole. Whilst in the UK I was told the Bee-Eaters arrived in Pitve on 3rd May. Last year my first sighting of both Bee-Eater and Cuckoo was 10th April.

Bee-eaters. Photo: Steve Jones

In fact from the house on 7th I heard Golden Oriole, Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, Blue Rock Thrush, Blackcap, Cirl Bunting and Cuckoo.

Black-headed bunting. Photo: Steve Jones

8th May, This was my first day back at the pond and, being car-less I did a 14km cycle in the morning, starting out just after 0700hrs. There were plenty of Bee-eaters, I counted 52 on my travels in two areas. Also that morning there was a Turtle Dove (they had been just arriving during the third week of April), and I saw Corn Bunting, Greenshank and Wood Sandpiper, Red Backed and Woodchat Shrike.

Red-backed Shrike. Photo: Steve Jones

 I've been seeing more woodchat than red-backed shrikes this year.

Woodchat Shrike. Photo: Steve Jones

A special treat was a very pleasing new arrival for the Island, my first sighting here of a Spoonbill.

Spoonbill. Photo: Steve Jones

10th May brought in another new wader for the count - Dunlin

Dunlin. Photo: Steve Jones

I was surprised to see a solitary Starling in Mid May, a bird I was expecting to see more of. They made their first appearance in early February, stayed for a short while and then moved on. I was seeing all the usual species every day, but 13th May brought in a Whitethroat. I saw one last year in Split but this was a first for me on the island. Then I saw my first dragonflies on the wing on 14th May.

18th May: I was out at 5am this morning, trying to photograph some Bee-Eaters from two sandbanks, but saw nothing. Clearly they are not roosting there, and yet I have seen groups of up to 50 flying about. Maybe later in the day is the right time to see them. However, I did see a Little Ringed Plover, which I also saw last month, and this time I managed to get a decent photograph of it.

Little ringed plover, May 2017. Photo: Steve Jones

Going out every day to the same place I was seeing nothing new until the 19th May, when I got three new species: Spotted Flycatcher, Black Headed Bunting and a new one for me on the Island – Purple Heron. (On 18th April I had made a note to myself that I might have seen this, but the sighting was all too brief, so I sort of dismissed it). Anyhow the Purple Heron, which was about for two or three days, brought the count for the year to just over 80, so I was very pleased with that.

Continuing to go the pond not far from the airfield every day, I have been seeing a lot of Woodchat Shrike this year, seemingly far more than in previous years. Waders seemed to be hitting the pond most days, never in great numbers, but some two or three were appearing most days up to 28th. There was a Black-Headed Bunting calling nearby and several Linnets about. Unfortunately a decent picture of the Linnet escapes me.

Cuckoo. Photo: Steve Jones

30th May. I have kept varying my times going out just in case it might bring different species, but it hasn't made too much difference. The Nightingale is hardly singing at all now, and with only three weeks to longest day that will signal the end. I’m not into finding nests with young, but I have seen evidence of birds feeding their young. I suspect the last of the waders have moved from the pond, as I have not seen anything in three days now. Blackbirds are singing again as are Blackcaps. A couple of Corn Buntings were singing again this morning, and I've been hearing the Black Headed Bunting periodically.

Finally, 30th May saw me a get a reasonable picture of a Cuckoo at last, still some distance away, but for those of you who have heard but not seen them, this is for you.

With the few new species spotted this month, there are 83 in total now for the year so far.  There are also a couple I haven’t mentioned in writing, as I couldn't get decent enough photographs to highlight them. They tend to be a bit nondescript. The Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler for example, and the Spanish Sparrow is another one which is difficult to pick out.

I have a potential new wader which I photographed a week ago, but I am not entirely convinced that it is different from the Little Stint which is already on the list. When these birds are only 18cm high and you are seeing them from a distance, plus they are just coming into breeding plumage, it makes ID ( for me) difficult. But everything I have listed I am 100% happy with.

© Steve Jones, 2017

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

Postscript: a female cuckoo made its presence known with its unusual call on May 20th, just behind my house in Pitve, and again for three days after that. I haven't heard her since, so I presume she concluded her sneaky egg-swapping business and then flew off to pastures new! VG June 12th 2017.

You are here: Home Nature Watch Birdwatch, May 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