30 Days Wild – Day 1

30 days wild is a challenge set up by the Wildlife Trusts, where they give people the task of doing something ‘wild’ every day of June.
In doing this they hope to introduce wildlife and nature into more people’s lives, which not only means that more people will care for the wildlife, but also more people will experience the positive health effects from regular doses of the outdoors.

They are also encouraging those who blog about wildlife (like me) to write about my experiences in June and share them with others.I have taken up this challenge, and so I should hopefully post one blog post every day. As I have school, exams, clubs etc, don’t expect a long post every day, but hopefully I should manage at least something.

So here we go, DAY #1 – Watching Nightjars

I quite often go on walks to see my local badger sett, but that means I spend very little time of my evenings anywhere else.
So yesterday I decided to have a change – I went to see my local Nightjars.
I’m very lucky to have them within walking distance, and since the amazing experience of ringing them at the Birdcamp last week, I decided to give them another go.

I was certainly not disappointed. It started off with the male’s incredible ‘churr’ that sounds a little like an old video player rewinding. It contains over 30 notes per second, and can be heard very far away on a still night. It is an incredible noise, really evocative – and inspired tales of the supernatural many years ago. After all, at night, who knows where they’re coming from?

The males use this call just like most ┬ábirds use their songs – to mark out their territory and advertise themselves to females.
Every few seconds it changes pitch before returning to its original note. Simon King says he thinks this could be when they are breathing in, and I believe that could be true – otherwise I don’t see how they could keep going for so long at a time.

Look what I recorded then last evening…

When a Nightjar churs, then somehow spots or hears another Nightjar on its territory (I didn’t notice the second at all) it leaves its perch and chases the other male away, while wing-clapping.
You can tell that they are both males because you can see that they both have white wing spots on the very tips of their wings, as well as on their tails.

The wing clapping is a very loud noise that they make by clapping their wings together (specifically their carpel joints) above their head. This is usually associated with attracting females, so either here the male is also trying to impress any watching females at the same time as chasing the invader, or the wing clapping is also used in territorial displays too.

At the very end, you can see the male flying down and landing, and I really hope that this is on a nest, and that it has a brood of eggs somewhere down there.

While this was all happening, 2 woodcocks came flying very low right over my head, too quick for a photo or film unfortunately. They were also making their wonderful and strange call, which was very clearly audible as it was only a few metres away. It is the closest views I have ever had of one, and I don’t think many people get the privilege of either seeing woodcock that close, or seeing Nightjars before it gets dark.
So, all in all, an amazing start to #30 days wild. More equally exciting stuff to come over the next couple of weeks!

If anyone knows anything about what I’ve recorded, please do tell me (even if it means I am wrong!).

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2 thoughts on “30 Days Wild – Day 1

  1. What a fantastic evening. I love to head to a Heath at this time of year to listen to nightjars, they sound so unearthly and ethereal, it is one of my favourite summer nature spectacles.

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