Saturday, 30 June 2012

In search of Nightjars

A phone call from Brian saying he might try again for Nightjar tonight, and would I be up for it? It doesn't take much time to think about it, and by 7pm we are leaving for Suffolk.
It's only around an hours drive and I have the front seat tonight as dad has made other arrangements and so can't make it.
We have some rough directions to a site at West Stow and after a short drive around the local roads we find what looks to be a good area. It's only just gone 8.15pm so we have some time to wait. There's plenty of Jay's about and they are very noisy as they fly from one side of the clearing to the other. There's also a few Hares about feeding at the edges of the sandy paths. They keep us entertained as we wait for the light to fade.
The sun starts to drop down behind the trees and the local crows and gulls start to head for their roost sites. There's also large numbers of Swifts overhead.
It's gone 10pm before the light starts to go and the area falls silent, then the silence is broken by a "roding" Woodcock as it flies along the top of the trees. It's still light enough to get really good views of the bird. I have seen Woodcocks before but it's the first time I have ever heard one roding.
It's approaching 10.30pm now and still no sight nor sound of a Nightjar, another Woodcock flies through and again I get reasonable views of it. 
It starts to look like we are going to be disappointed again , When a bird starts "Churring" from somewhere out in front of us. It's distant, but it's an unmistakable sound. We head towards the area where the sound seems to be coming from, but realise it may be in the next clearing on the other side of the trees.
Back in the car we drive along the narrow lanes looking for any likely spots to pullover and listen. We can hear plenty of Tawny Owls calling and the odd Nightjar, but it's difficult to pinpoint the area from where the sound is coming from.
Happy to have finally heard if not seen a Nightjar and with good views of two Woodcocks and also to have heard them roding for the first time we head for home.

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