Daydreaming of Nightjars

A rare blog post to celebrate finally achieving a major life goal – finding a daytime roosting European Nightjar on my local heath, and photographing it at leisure. That is something I have spent years trying to find, always scanning and peering myopically at suitable roosting sites in a forlorn attempt to locate one of these cryptic mothmen. It is also partly a test for the eyes and the skills – if I can find one, that will surely arrest the aging process for a while…

It all started on Monday evening. I decided it was time to stop lolling about and get out to Marsham Heath to look for Nightjars. It was a gorgeous calm warm evening, and I took up position overlooking a salient branch that last year one of the Nightjars was using regularly soon after leaving its roost. At 2127, I heard a low churring from the forest edge, then along flew a male Nightjar and promptly sat on the branch! I had to move to get a clear shot, and was only able to take an unfocussed digi-shot through the scope before two birders emerged along the nearby trail and flushed the bird. Bah! They then came and stood next to me, one of them wearing a white coat! Grrr! Anyway, after some great (though more distant) views of two male Nightjars slowly circling around each other calling, they left. Good. The Nightjar however didn’t return to the branch, but it did serendipitously pose on a pole, in alignment with the new moon rising behind it. Ramadan Mabruk!

the first frame…
the lunar alignment

Tuesday, and another gorgeous evening. I had to go back again, to try and snap the bird on its magic branch. I took an off-piste route towards the branch, slowly scanning suitable open areas where a Nightjar might be resting…

There it is

Blimey! I’ve found a Nightjar roosting in the open! Er… freeze… slowly pull out camera and get some record shots, then carefully back up to get the scope on it. I was able to photograph it for a whole 30 minutes, before leaving it in peace. After another five minutes it began churring, and flew along the treeline, landed on the magic branch and began churring. So fantastic.

so gorgeous, so cryptic
its pretendiing to be asleep!


One Response to “Daydreaming of Nightjars”

  1. Bernard

    Some merit to creeping about in the bushes then. I hope your well! Would really like to join you in Thailand this Xmas but not possible. We are off to borneo next April for a Pitta fest!!!


Leave a Reply