Nightjars, Rare and Range Restricted.

The nightjar was verging on becoming a relic of the British countryside, what with the waning of Lowland heath through the last two centuries. A misconception of the species is that its preferred habitat is dense woodland.This is not the case, though interestingly the species is keen on man made clearings among planted conifers, or clear fell zones that have begun to show light scrub succession. They are summer migrants, arriving in late spring and harboring until September. Males tend to call from designated “churring” posts through this period, but they are cryptically camouflaged so don’t be disheartened if you do not spot one on your first evening session up on the heath. One of the areas that has seen the largest increases in visiting nightjars are the lowland heaths of Dartmoor National Park, but sightings have also improved in the southeast of England.
According to many surveys, the “great storm of 1987” had a huge impact upon the visiting nightjars as dense woodlands were rent open, freeing up habitat suitable for the birds.


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Hugh Michael Smith


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