My lads, now15 and 13, through semi-forced bird and wildlife watching, have grown up with a good knowledge of wildlife sights and sounds they'll never forget. For now though, they don't really join me on plods around Orlestone forest, unless it involves taking a mountain bike. But, it's not a problem, they spotted the Kites back in May, they know the call of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a purring Turtle Dove, and the churring call of the Nightjar.
The Nightjar once heard never forgotten, is a bird we used to take our boys down to Orlestone forest in their toddler years right-up to 2008 to see and hear. Then, a quick walk along the trails of Birchett Wood or just a short stop in Fags Wood car park would guarantee Nightjars. But now I've not heard one for three years. I could just be unlucky, but it feels to me like they've gone.
Last night, in still muggy air, no Nightjars at all in the forest, and that would have been my fifth visit this year. Orlestone forest has benefited from some expansive spruce-fellling in recent years so certainly there is plenty of new habitat for them to recolonise. On the plus side, young Tawney Owls where calling across the forest, so there's evidence of a good breeding year for them at least.