News archive

June 2008

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Nightjar on ground among heather

It's all in the Chase ......

Despite the fear of fuel shortages, the trip down to Cannock Chase proved uneventful. The Chase is a strange mix of pine plantations in various stages of growth, rolling heath land and small areas of deciduous trees and bushes. Parking the cars close to the German War Cemetery, we encountered Chaffinch, Green finch and Willow Warblers singing in the lush vegetation bordering the cemetery and paths. After a short walk into the heath, we came across a small patch of trees on a slight rise from which we could hear but not see a Tree Pipit singing. Suddenly a small bird shot up into the air and performed a lovely song flight before coming back to rest in the canopy of a tree. Almost immediately the performance was repeated a short distance away and it became obvious that the tree line formed the boundary of two Tree Pipits territories. The birds were more concerned about each other than us and we had brilliant views of the birds for a good half hour. We moved on further into the heath looking for Wood Lark which were reported breeding in the area. Sadly, although stumbling across more Tree and Meadow Pipits we failed to find any Wood Larks. The occasional Buzzard lazily glided across the area looking for food or perhaps a place to rest. Back to the car for a late tea and then we set off to an area we had identified as good for Nightjar and Woodcock. We arrived just a few minutes late for the 'roding' Woodcock which, according to a couple of birdwatchers already present, had been performing beautifully up until we arrived.... that's birdwatching for you ! As the sun fell and the light got darker we heard the first 'churring' call of a male Nightjar. After a few minutes of calling there was silence as the bird moved position only to start churring again closer to where we were. Closer and closer it crept towards our location. Just as we were about to give up it started calling from the top branch of a tree close by giving good silhouette views. It took to the air, flying around for a short period, before disappearing again. On the walk back to the car we could hear many Nightjar churring from both sides of the road. In the darkness it was a eerie sound but was a fitting way to end our visit.