Forest Nightjars

Nightjar a


Twelve members and guests joined Andrew Bluett for a late evening meeting in search of the elusive and intriguing Nightjars in the Forest of Dean. A Roebuck was sighted in the edge of the football ground soon followed by a cock Pheasant and a Fallow Doe on the walk up the hill towards the open areas of clear fell. As the evening drew on the Willow Warblers and a Garden Warbler ceased singing, the evening chorus of Robin, Blackbirds and Song Thrush died down as the party headed towards the first location where a distant Nightjar was heard faintly churring some distance away. A second, closer bird was followed up and was churring strongly. Brief and careful use of a recording brought the bird closer so that it flew around and showed off its song and calls within a few yards of the observers. On the return by a different route a third bird was heard churring on another area of clear fell some distance to the north.

Woodcock put in only a brief and fleeting appearance – heard but not seen well and only two brief calls from Tawny Owl were somewhat disappointing. However, the party had seen and heard Nightjars so were quite satisfied with the evenings events.

Nightjar can be seen from early June through July and into early August or even later, they are distributed in suitable habitats across the Forest of Dean but only in small numbers compared with other counties to the south and east where better habitat is found on heathland and around forest edges. Being crepuscular birds, it is necessary to venture out in the late evening as darkness falls on still, warm and windless evenings to view them, a measure of luck is also required so that more than one visit may be needed for success even at sites where the birds are known to be present.



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