Friday, 1 August 2014

Nightjars be Churring!

It was as I was driving back through mid-wales I got a message asking if I wanted to meet up in a few hours and want to head off to look for some heathland specialities. With the weather looking as good, and as calm as it was, it looked a perfect evening for Nightjars, which would be our main target.

I had barely sat down back at home before I was on the move again, and I then went onto meet Mike, Mike's son and Jarad before continuing on. We had planned to arrive well before when the Nightjars would be churring, so went and checked out some habitat nearby.

Immediately upon stepping out the car, a sweet melody was ringing out from a lark high above us, proving to be my first Woodlark of the year. I was not expecting to find this species on this visit, as, despite them singing 'almost' year around, their main time to sing is early morning, so to have one singing at around 7pm on a calm sunny evening was unexpected.

Infact, I do think that Woodlark may be one of my favourite of all songs, perhaps even more so than Skylark, the notes and phrasing create a superb liquid sound that is very pleasant on the ear!

3 Tree Pipits were also singing away at various points around our walk but as the sun started to head down towards the horizon though, it was time to move our location. Soon after the sound of roding Woodcocks filled the air, silhouetted by the red sky. They were passing over at frequent intervals, and at one point 3 birds were up chasing each other at the same time!

We stood on a raised track some distance from a pine plantation, a likely location for a roosting Nightjar, but we were intrigued by a variety of 'squeaky' noises originating from said plantation, it didn't take long for us to figure out that it was juvenile LONG-EARED OWL'S, and there were at least 2 of them calling from in front of us. Sadly though, they proved impossible to see, so we went back to our task in hand.

But as we stood it got darker, and darker, and darker, and then a brief snippet of a distant Chur had me and Jarad having heard out first NIGHTJAR of the evening!
We moved out position, back onto the track on which we had walked through, and soon after, we were treated to stunning flight views of a male NIGHTJAR as it swooped around us, showing off his bright white tail corners and primary spots. We got literally binocular filling in flight views until it moved off towards the opposite side of the clearing.

But then it flew back in, and perched right on the edge of a Poplar tree adjacent to the track, and right out in full view, giving what can be described as no less than stunning views! Despite having been 'mocked' for carrying my scope across the heathland, it came in handy now, and I was able to scope it as it perched up, and churred his heart out until we decided to leave!

What an experience!What a way to spent a summers evening! Absolutely stunning!

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