An evening of surprise

Chobham Common ~ 1st July 2014 ~ 

Yesterday evening I was invited by CL and DKL to join them and EP to try our luck at ringing Nightjars on Chobham Common.

The wind was low and it started off fairly warm - the conditions seemed perfect but there was just one problem...there were no birds about! None at all...not even a Blue Tit! As it started to get dark some birds did make their presence known, with a few Chiffchaffs belting out a few notes, a Blackbird making a brief appearance and a Woodcock flying over making the usual squeaky call that they do.

CL and DKL decided that if we hadn't caught anything by 11pm then we would start taking down nets as there wasn't much point keeping them up any longer. Time passed fairly quickly and before we knew it it was 20 minutes to 11pm so CL went to check some of the nets. He came back and we were all very pleased to see that in his hand was a Nightjar!!! I'm not sure I stopped grinning from that moment until I went to sleep!

The wing - used for ageing and sexing. Note the white patches on
the 3rd and 4th primaries which indicate this to be a male.

I always feel very privileged when out ringing as there are not many people that get to see our avian counterparts up close and personal in the way that ringers do. Being able to ring, hold and examine the Nightjar was especially amazing because not only was it my 6th time out trying to catch them, but also because I have had a long fascination with them and am lucky enough to have them breeding on my patch!

Apologies for the bad photo, but what a stunning
and bizarre bird nonetheless!

Unfortunately that was all we caught but in my opinion it was well worth the effort! The only other things of note were the two Roe Deer chasing each other around the heath early on in the evening and a Toad that was hopping about on the path (and EP's shoe) on our way back to the car park.

All in all a absolutely fantastic experience and not one I will be forgetting any time soon (and yes, I know I said that about the Gull and Tern ringing the other day too - they are both awesome experiences that I feel very lucky to have had)!!

Many thanks for reading - I hope you've enjoyed it! Don't forget you can keep up with my activity on my website here, Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.

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