Nature Watch, May 2018

Steve Jones, ever on the watch for birds, has some exciting sightings in May. 

Roller (zlatovrana) Roller (zlatovrana) Photo: Steve Jones

As Steve reports: Not a great deal to report in May, primarily as two weeks were spent in the UK. That said, the last two weeks of the month have been very interesting with several new sightings which I had not seen before on the island or elsewhere. Also without doubt I had an element of luck, being at the right place and the right time, as two of the new species were just glimpses: I saw the Sand Martin just once among swifts and swallows, and spotted the Lesser Grey Shrike just for a few seconds, but I was still just able to get photographic record shots for confirmation, though not good enough for publication. The Nightjar I recognized by its call, but as I have no hope of getting a daytime picture of one, I am aiming to be more successful with a night-time photo.

Sand Martin, photographed at Reculver Cliffs, UK, in April 2016 by John Ball

If you are an early riser around 04:30-04:45 you may have heard the “dawn chorus”. It's well worth getting up for at this time of year, even if you only do it once! More generally, you have probably noticed this month several species of bird carrying food to their young.

Red-backed Shrike sitting on her nest, Photo Steve Jones

If you are not familiar with House Martins, there is a good opportunity to see them in action at the post office in Vrbanj. They have built a nest right above the door, where the adults fearlesslyfeed their young, so no need for any binoculars or fancy equipment. Closer to home, in my garden, I have a Red Backed Shrike sitting on eggs (presumably). I took the photograph above last week of another Red Backed Shrike, also sitting, about 100 metres from my house.

Red-backed Shrike (male). Photo: Steve Jones

The male (pictured above) was to be seen quite close by where the female was sitting. There were four young in the nest, which fitted in perfectly until about mid-June. By 17th June, they were so big they were struggling to fit into the nest. Much as I wanted to get a picture of the adults feeding the young, I realised it was pretty well impossible, as they obviously kept away if they saw me anywhere near the nest.

Red Backed Shrike babies, 17th June 2018, growing up fast. Photo: Steve Jones

The Black Headed Bunting arrived at pretty much the same time as last year but I have only seen one so far, so they are nothing like as common as the Red Backed or Woodchat Shrikes.

Rose.Coloured Starlings. Photo: Steve Jones

I had a friend visiting for a few days and whilst out one morning we came across three Rose Coloured Starlings for a matter of seconds. I managed to get a record shot but before I could get another picture they were off.

Just minutes after this another first for the island – and that at the pond I visit almost daily. The Squacco Heron, this stayed for three days before moving on.

Squacco Heron. Photo: Steve Jones

Without doubt the highlight of the month was a short visit of two Rollers (zlatovrana). The photographs are poor as they were some distance and as it was a first for me. I spent more time looking through the binoculars at the birds than photographing. That said some adequate record shots. These were visible for about three minutes and despite me scouring the area pretty well every day since, no signs.

During the next three months I won’t be going out as frequently. Already things are beginning to quieten down, the Nightingale, which was singing incessantly, has already cut its singing down. I have only heard one Cuckoo in the last five days, but interestingly this year I have heard a female Cuckoo a few times. I still wonder what the host bird may be. My thinking is it might be a Corn Bunting, so if you see an active Corn Bunting, check it out: you never know, it may be feeding a Cuckoo!

Broad-Bodied Chaser Dragonfly. Photo: Steve Jones

The pond I visit is holding its water levels well, there are signs now of it dropping but it is still considerably higher than this time last year. I am also noticing quite a lot of dragonfly activity, several Emperors, Broad Bodied Chasers and an Emerald damselfly (I am awaiting confirmation on which Emerald species).

Emperor Dragonfly. Photo: Steve Jones

Finally a shot of everyone’s favourite ……………………….the Bee-Eater, which is one of the strongest draws attracting birding enthusiasts from cooler climates to Hvar.

Bee-Eater. Photo: Steve Jones

 

Species sighted in May 2018. Shaded areas mark species new to me on the island.
© Steve Jones, 2018
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
You are here: Home Nature Watch Nature Watch, May 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