18 June 2020

2020 / 41

20:30 – 22:30 (with Ian West)
Overcast and dull, but warm. 15°C

Ian has really got hooked on the Nightjars, which is lovely to see in someone I have known for 25 years that has never shown an interest in birds before. He brought his wife and duaghter here at the weekend, and claims to have had “birds everywhere” – including on the farmland and at Marshall’s – but I think some of that is over enthusiasm and inexperience talking.

We have come to the High Seat on his inititative, despite me maintaining it is not the best place to view them. But with beers in his rucksack and a sizeable portion of chips in mine I am not inclined to argue. And again, he claims great views of birds right overhead from here just a few days ago…

So it proved to be, although they were late starting. It does seem the first bird to start is the male who patrols the south side, churring with his erratic and short bursts. But a second quickly joins in. Just before 9.30 (a fewmoinutes after sunset) they start flying around, and for half an hour it’s quite remarkable. One comes – as described – right overhead fromt he end of the birch line and up into the large Yew that stands closest to the seat. Watching its silhouette from jst 20m away, it turns its head (no churring) raises its wings. Spreads the tail; a little shimmy and off again. The ‘quip’ call that enues is deeper than most, and I tell myself that actually I can identify this same bird by that lower note.
There is much bubbling, clucking and wing-clapping as a third male joins in. We have two encounters with FOUR birds together flying past us, leading me to conclude there are three males here this year, in pursuit of just a single female.

Mesemrising birds. But they have shifted slightly. We move on to watch from the track where the bird was callign form the larches last week and he is not using that perch now, and the female is not using the dead tree. They are more flighty, and very active. Two overhead along the track itself.

We had Owls again too. Two families – one on the clearfell itself inthe clump; and a second up on the Broad back up towards the east end.

Woodcock less active tonight for some reason. APart form just a half dozen roding flights, we saw three birds together twice

Update : Wednesday 25 June
I receive a phonecall from the Forestry England ranger confirming that he has found a Nightjar nest in the Wood. While ‘spotting’ the new planting there, SH disturbed a female who flew up from the ground into an adjacent yew tree and sat watching him at close range. There are currently two eggs, and I have been given details of the location.

This is tremendously exciting, as I have never seen a nest before, or even a daytime Nightjar in sunlight. So an opportunity presents itself to go and observe the birds behaviour during this incubation period. From a suitable distance of course. I note that Nightjar is currently not listed as Schedule 1 under the Wildlife & Countryside Act (1981), though I thought it was. There are between 500 and 600 pairs in Hampshire and it is described (HOS Annual Report, 2018) as “moderately common”). Another friend, and board member of HWT, reports that Nightjars have been found recently nesting in some of the New Forest carparks and on tracks in more open areas than usual this season. This may be a direct response to the reduced access for people in certain places imposed under the Covid-19 movement restrictions

I have found this paper to be of especial interest, although it is rather more academic and scientific than my limits


SH also reported that on the same work session in the Wood, he encountered a ‘family’ of Stonechats and was amazed because he did not know they were here.
I have managed to see the male bird myself only once, so the family is a surprise. They have raised two young and were moving around along the stream course on the west clearfell.

If only I hadn’t moved house in the last couple of days…

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