30 June 2020

2020 / 42

20:30 – 22:00

Still overcast after a day of showers and persistent drizzle. Mild evening 16°C with a moderate F3 SW wind. Clearing from the West later.

I have come to ‘check up’ on, watch and otherwise investigate the ‘eastenders’.
The eggs are still exposed, which is a concern. Is the nest abandoned, or do they do this until they incubate…?
For the best part of an hour nothing happens, except for a steady passage of gulls overhead which is unusual in itself. 14 Herring Gulls and 6 Lesser Black-backs pass over south in twos and threes, with then a single Lesser Black-back going back the other way.
Until 21:45 when a large number of gulls comes over. Unprecedented ragged group of over 60 birds, mostly Herring Gulls. At least two Blackbirds singing until its really quite late. And at least two Woodcock as well, For half an hour or more there seems to be one in the air the whole time, and twice, two birds circle past together.
I am surprised and delighted to have so much activity going on in these less than ideal conditions.

First heard the male Nightjar churring briefly on the stroke of 9.30 from one of the larches beside the track as I have had one doing at the other end of the Wood. I didn’t see him move, but its not long before he’s up and churring from the largest of the three Yews about 50m from where I am standing, tucked against a bank of bramble and  bushes. And here he comes, flicking and twisting, hovvering briefly over my head, checking me out. He swoops up onto a very low hanging branch just a few metres above the ground, and even without optics I can see him clearly. I have my scope tonight, and its fabulous to pick him up through this and enjoy close up views. OK its only half light, but while his tail is fanned I can see the two large white mirrors on each of the outer feathers. There is a crescent of pale marking under his eye and he appears to be wearing a heavy ‘collar’ of grey/black rather lika a mayoral chain… The shape is fascinating – Nightjars have apparently no chin/throat/neck and no forehead. Weird looking thing, but of course completely beautiful. He shifts on his perch to face me front-on, suddenly looking broad across the heavily barred chest. What a treat to see one so well.
The female appears from my right, calling with her plaintive ‘coo-ip’ and he swishes down to follow here, wing-clapping and calling in response. So they are both still here, and she may not be incubating yet. If she has laid somewhere else of course which is a possibility. So much more to find out.

It is past 10pm before I realise it, and the birds have fallen quiet.
Time to make my own exit. It is remarkably light for this time of evening.

Forestry England have been in since Friday with some heavy machinery and ‘scoured’ the track, at least as far as I can see around the first bend down towards the wayleave. the top couple of inches have been broken up and turned over. It is claggy after the heavy rain, and uneven to walk on. Surely not good for the solitary bee colony? I must look into what this achieves? Perhaps it aerates the soil, or improves drainage.
Turns up insects and seeds?


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