Trip reports

Horsell Common

Horsell Common
RSPB Images

Friday, 19 June 2015

A gratifying total of nineteen people turned out on a reasonably fine June evening with nightjars very much in mind. Simon, as the keeper of local knowledge really led the walk which initially took us out through the mix of pine and birch which, along with the heather, characterises the Common.

Walking through this mix of habitat produced not much in all honesty but we were still serenaded by blackbird, wren, chiffchaff and song thrush.

Our first quarry was dartford warbler which have returned to the common after a gap of several years following some sharp winter periods. Well, I can confirm that they are definitely there with the group hearing at least two males singing (a bit) and calling. They were however quite elusive and at best, we managed the odd glimpse.

Nonetheless, it is very encouraging to know that they have bounced back sufficiently to occupy what isn't the perfect habitat for dartfords.

We then moved a short distance to await the hoped for nightjars. We very nearly missed the first one (in fact I did miss it) but some of the group noticed a bird gliding high over the pines; not exactly typical nightjar behaviour and for that reason it was only identified as such just before it disappeared below the skyline.

More typically, we heard our first snatch of 'churring' at about 9.20 and then very little until perhaps 9.45 when more churring was followed by sighting a single bird in that lovely, butterfly like flight that marks out these amazing creatures. I then saw this bird perched, very briefly, before two more flew by more or less in tandem. We continued to get brief but clear sightings for a short while before heading slowly back towards the cars, hoping for the odd further nightjar on the way.

A pleasant evening enjoyed by a good number of members.
Neil Bew
Photo of a nightjar in flight, RSPB Images