Birdwatch, January - February 2018

Well as I type this on March 1st looking out at my bird feeders amidst heavy snowfall, the birding calendar tells me Spring is on its way.

Kingfisher, January 2018 Kingfisher, January 2018 Photo: Steve Jones

January was interesting, bringing me several new species on the island. But it was also notable for the absence of “winter birds” such as Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare plus Brambling. The absence of Brambling, which is similar to the Chaffinch and often seen with them, is a mystery. With Chaffinch being by far the most numerous bird on the island, try as I might I am just not seeing Brambling amongst them.

January 1st was a great start in as much as I saw a Peregrine Falcon on the airfield. It doesn’t mean they aren’t here all the time, but this was the first time I had seen one. However, I only managed a poor picture.The Hawfinch I saw in the latter part of December was visible with two others on a few more occasions during January, which I consider unusual. Oddly, there were also numerous sightings of these birds in the UK at about the same time.

Peregrine falcon. Photo: Steve Jones

Most days Sparrowhawk and Buzzard were to be seen. Not quite so often, but enough times to say they over-winter here, I saw Hen Harriers. In mid - January I was seeing the Kingfisher almost every day in Stari Grad.

Blackbirds were notably active everywhere, mostly feeding on ivy berries, or enjoying a bath in the water tray in my garden. Equally my bird feeders continued to bring in good numbers of Chaffinches, Great Tits and Blue Tits, probably peaking at 30 birds. Blue tits were present in far greater numbers during January than before Christmas. Apart from these, I also saw the occasional Robin, Wren and Dunnock.

Blue tit. Photo: Steve Jones

On January 11th I had a fantastic morning. There was some sunshine and no wind, and I saw loads of assorted Finches, Wrens, Dunnocks, Cirl Buntings, Wood Larks (which I thought at first were Tree Pipits), and 30 hooded crows in one flock. There were also Sardinian Warblers and Stonechats, both of which clearly over-wintered here - I had suspected as much in the case of the Sardinian Warbler, as I had seen one or two during the winter of 2016, although before that I used to think it arrived with other migrants in the Spring. January 11th brought this picture.

Sardinian warbler. Photo: Steve Jones

The pond I visit most often for birdwatching was at last beginning to take on water come the third week of January. I had thought to myself in December about how low the levels were. Little did I know what was to come, and that there was no need to worry. By the end of February it has surpassed the levels of last Winter. On 28th January in Stari Grad I sort of dismissed hearing a Woodpecker. At the time I was concentrating on identifying a diving bird in the channel leading up to Stari Grad. Then I caught sight of the Woodpecker, if briefly, and, more importantly, could easily recognise the call of the Great Spotted Woodpecker. In over ten years of birdwatching on Hvar, I had never come across one. However, a friend in Jelsa told me later that there was a woodpecker nest close to his home last year. Obviously I can't hope to spot all the resident or visiting birds on Hvar so it is pleasing when gaps are filled in by other enthusiasts, and even more so when I catch up with those I haven't seen in previous years. 

Great spotted woodpecker. Photo: Steve Jones

The diving bird I was tracking on January 28th also turned out to be another first for me on the island, a Black Necked Grebe. Nobody was more surprised than me when I managed to identify it with certainty on 31st January.

Not much new to report in February, I did note that 21st of February the pond levels were back at winter levels of 2017. ( I have a marker placed last year as an indicator – until someone finds it that is). I did note that the Black Redstart was just starting to take on its summer breeding plumage. February 22nd brought in 10 Lapwings on the airfield, in recent days, particularly since the arrival of the snow, I would estimate 50-60 birds but spread out now. They don’t like you getting too close for photographs but have managed this.

Lapwing. Photo: Steve Jones

I have been trying to get out twice a day during the cold spell to see what it has brought in and I have been more than surprised with a few sightings. In addition to the Lapwing some returning waders are now at the pond. 27th on the airfield I caught by chance amongst the Lapwings a Grey Plover, a first for me on the island. Also a Swallow - so despite the snow Spring is on its way. Yesterday afternoon whilst trying to take a picture of a Snipe (another new one for me on the island), a dozen Common Cranes touched down briefly.

Common cranes in flight. Photo: Steve Jones

The tally of first sightings for the first two months of the year was 49. Let us hope it dries up and warms up in March, bringing more arrivals.

© Steve Jones 2018.

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, January - February 2018

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Exclusive: Thinning indicates profound impact of humans and could affect satellites and GPS

    Humanity’s enormous emissions of greenhouse gases are shrinking the stratosphere, a new study has revealed.

    The thickness of the atmospheric layer has contracted by 400 metres since the 1980s, the researchers found, and will thin by about another kilometre by 2080 without major cuts in emissions. The changes have the potential to affect satellite operations, the GPS navigation system and radio communications.

    Continue reading...

  • DuPont and Daikin, manufacturers of ‘short chain’ PFAS, did not inform regulator about the FDA negative results of tests on animals

    Chemical giants DuPont and Daikin knew the dangers of a PFAS compound widely used in food packaging since 2010, but hid them from the public and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), company studies obtained by the Guardian reveal.

    The chemicals, called 6:2 FTOH, are now linked to a range of serious health issues, and Americans are still being exposed to them in greaseproof pizza boxes, carryout containers, fast-food wrappers, and paperboard packaging.

    Continue reading...

  • The New River Gorge in West Virginia offers stunning views, rock climbing and rafting but some worry it is unprepared for an influx of visitors

    The New River has spent millions of years carving a bucolic gorge in West Virginia. It is now home to one of the most biodiverse forests on the continent. And while humans have tracked prey along its jagged cliffs for thousands of years, now most people come to the gorge to find adventure.

    Related:How to plan your 2021 trip to a US national park

    Continue reading...

  • Great Eastern Brood set to emerge in the last two weeks of May and into early June, with hordes of bugs to push up from underground

    Brood X, otherwise known as the great cicada hatching of 2021, is drawing closer as soil temperatures in some parts of America move closer to 64F (18C) – the trigger, according to scientists, for trillions of the insects to push up to the surface and into the trees to mate.

    Related:If we want to save the planet, the future of food is insects

    Continue reading...

  • Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off

    An area of forest the size of France has regrown around the world over the past 20 years, showing that regeneration in some places is paying off, a new analysis has found.

    Nearly 59m hectares of forests have regrown since 2000, the research found, providing the potential to soak up and store 5.9 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide – more than the annual emissions of the entire US.

    Continue reading...

  • For miles around Walleys Quarry in Silverdale, people have reported waking up in the night struggling to breathe

    It may have been labelled the country’s smelliest village but it is much more than a bad stench from the local landfill making life miserable for the residents of Silverdale in Staffordshire, who have now started crowdfunding for potential legal action against the site.

    For miles around Walleys Quarry landfill near Newcastle-under-Lyme, people have reported waking up in the middle of the night struggling to breathe, with itchy eyes and sore throats. Those with asthma have had their medication increased, and some have reported nosebleeds.

    Continue reading...

  • Addressing the climate crisis will be the greatest undertaking in the history of humankind. We have to give it all we have

    Joe Biden wants to cut US emissions in half from their 2005 levels. However, since emissions have been slowly declining since then, this amounts to only a 37% drop from 2020 levels.

    That, in a nutshell, is the issue. Our leaders are adhering to a template that doesn’t meet the urgency of the moment. The US is not even the world’s largest emitter any more, and China – the biggest polluter – seeks to build more coal-fired power plants, failing to reach carbon neutrality until 2060. Unfortunately, that is a perfect illustration of just how disconnected we are from the gravity of the situation.

    Continue reading...

  • Licences given to arms firm Lockheed Martin said to go against government’s stance on exploiting seabed

    Deep-sea mining exploration licences granted by the British government are “riddled with inaccuracies”, and could even be unlawful, according to Greenpeace and Blue Marine Foundation, a conservation charity.

    The licences, granted a decade ago to UK Seabed Resources, a subsidiary of the US arms multinational Lockheed Martin, have only recently been disclosed by the company.

    Continue reading...

  • Sandy, Bedfordshire: The sedge warblers want to be seen and heard, but the grasshopper warbler cannot be pinned down

    A great tit has crowned the lime trees outside our house for three months or more, with its steady, seesaw song, rendered mnemonically and memorably as “tea-cher, tea-cher”. Over that period the bird has become – to some ears at least – a bare-branched bore.

    In the unfurling of May, its song became more sporadic – but in addition, a new voice had arrived, one that was even more repetitive, yet anything but monotonous. Obsessed and addicted, I hurried down to the riverside meadow, lured to listen for the eighth time within a fortnight.

    Continue reading...

  • They are benevolent vegetarian gods. They watch over, through shielded eyes,the very few animals that have a fringe.

    William Topaz McGonagall, the “worst poet in the history of the English language”, is responsible for some of my mother’s favourite words in the world to say. She delivers them in a decent-enough Scottish accent, and she does so whenever the opportunity presents itself: “On yonder hill there stood a coo / It’s no’ there noo / It must’a shif’ted”. When I hear this rhyme I picture a Scottish highland cow, its coat waving in the icy flaff.

    McGonagall, who has a certain genius for coos, unfortunately also felt moved to capture in rhyme disasters, “calamities” and freak accidents. He chose to pay tribute to the people who died in the 1879 Tay Bridge disaster thus:

    Beautiful railway bridge of the silv’ry Tay
    Alas! I am very sorry to say
    That ninety lives have been taken away
    On the last sabbath day of 1879
    Which will be remember’d for a very long time.”

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds