Saturday, 28 May 2016

Nightjar at Last!

I visited the usual Llanwynno site, last Saturday and was disappointed to hear only one male churring distantly and briefly, before shutting up and getting on with feeding. I never saw it, but given the cool, breezy conditions, I wasn't surprised.
Last night, determined to see my first NJ, I nipped up to another area of forestry. There has been a pair holding territory there for around ten years; since the area was clear-felled and partly replanted. The conditions were near perfect, with midges and mosies galore, though there was the threat of a heavy shower or two moving in from the Cardiff area and it was because of that threat that I left it to last minute before giving it a try.
Due to the late decision, I wasn't getting to the area until 21:40, but as I walked into the site, I was immediately rewarded by a male churring close by and seeing it sitting on top of a small pine, about 10 metres away was just what I'd hoped for. It flew off and came close past me, giving great views of the white spots on its tail and wings. Very quickly, it was joined by a female, and they flew in tandem for a minute or so, while at the same time another male began churring from not far away.
The pair flew across the ride in front of me and I watched, the female suddenly drop into the ground vegetation, the male heading off and then churring from further away. As he was doing that, a second pair flew over me and after making a few passes over the more open areas in front of me, they disappeared. I stayed for a while longer, though by that time, it was getting quite dark, during which time, I heard a little more fitful churring and flight calls.

While there I also heard something potentially interesting. In the distance, from a plantation of semi mature spruce, came a constant and monotonous sound of a faint, fairly deep "Who... who... who... who!" calls, repeated continuously for minutes on end. It never varied in either volume or tone and was obviously being made by an owl, but not a Tawny. I believe it was a Long-eared, which is why I have deliberately withheld the name and locality of the site.


  1. That's brilliant news Mark about the owl.

  2. I am hoping to go there again, tonight, weather permitting, to try an get a sound recording. I won't go any closer than I was last night (I estimate 200 metres), so the sound will be just audible to my non specialist digital recorder, but if I am able to make one, the recording might be good enough to positively identify it as Long-eared. In truth, I can't really think of what else it could have been.

  3. Thanks Mike. Went there,this evening, had great views of the NJ, but not a sound from the plantation. My mother was rushed into hospital today, so this was probably my last chance to do this for a while.