Tuesday, 19 May 2020

Nightjars Return

It's been about nine years since Clinton felled a large area of larch between Southleigh and Beer, cleared to help prevent the spread of a disease called Ramorum.  Less than a year later, Nighjars found this now suitable habitat, which had been created almost by default (simply by clearing a load of trees!). 2013 was the year we all added Nightjar to our patch lists.

The following year the Nightjars returned, and brought with them other species suited to this habitat, namely a pair of Tree Pipits and several pairs of Stonechats. The Tree Pipits lasted another year (2015) and Stonechats were breeding here until last year.  I am pleased to say Nightjars have returned every year, and last night I was delighted to confirm they were back for their eighth year...

There were two males present, vocal from 21:10 but neither showed until 21:20.  The churr of the Nightjar wasn't the only treat for my ears, as at 20:40 a Cuckoo called several times from the direction of Southleigh.  Only my second spring record for the patch - a proper local scarcity.

Back to the habitat, and nine years since the larch trees were felled, this is how it looks...

A carpet of 8-10 foot high conifers

As a result of this growth there's no Stonechats to be seen, but warblers have moved in.  There's more Blackcaps than I have seen here before, along with a Willow Warbler (not a common breeding bird around these parts) and three Whitethroats.  Most surprising of all however was the sheer number of Siskins.  Yes if go into any woodland with a bit of conifer at this time of year you'll probably see or hear a Siskin or two, but there were singles and pairs bombing around all over the place last night.  These young trees must be offering plenty of nesting opportunities for this small finch, and there's clearly more than enough food in the vicinity to support a healthy population.

I am finding it really interesting watching how the change in habitat of this site is reflected in the birds using it.  Year on year.  This winter I'm secretly hoping for Great Grey Shrike, and who knows, breeding Redstart next summer?

Stay safe everyone...

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