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Tuesday, 10 June 2014

First local Nightjar for many years

Having spent five fruitless nights listening for Nightjars and not having heard any local birds for many years, I'd just about abandoned any chance of finding one for this year.

So tonight, I decided I'd concentrate on looking for another declining bird, the Woodcock. I went down to the woods, camera in-hand, and positioned myself with a clear view over some scrub with the sun behind me. As I waited, I noted that there was still the odd Nightingale and two Willow warblers singing, but the big singers are still the local Song Thrushes with at least four birds singing loudly.

After 45 minutes, the mosquitos were beginning to get annoying. There were many moths on the move and the local Tawney Owls were beginning to call - yet still no Woodcock. This year I believe there are just one or two are roding and so fairly easy to miss. Oh well, I thought, I'll call it a day.

I packed my camera back into its case and headed back to the car. As I got into my stride, I looked up at the silhouetted pine trees with an impressive moon above, and then, as easy to see as you like, a wonderful Nightjar skimming across the canopy like a giant butterfly. I just had time to recognise its unmistakable slim and angular profile before it was gone out of sight. Frustratingly, there was no time for a picture. The bird reminded me more of Common Nighthawks: those that I had seen in Canada fed earlier than our birds and are not particularly shy, either. And so that was it. No returning flight and no churring calls, but most definitely my first Nightjar for many years.

A single Woodcock was to follow and with a Turtle Dove purring in the garden at 6.00 am and juvenile Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers at Alex's Pastures on Sunday morning, its been a very good couple of days.