These strange nocturnal birds that hawk insects at night have succumbed to large habitat loss across Europe and are RED Listed due to their decline in numbers, they are seldom seen at day due to their cryptic grey/brown plumage which gives them ideal camouflage when sat motionless on the floor. Their favoured habitats include heathland, moorland, woodland and conifer plantations with clearings. Because they are incredibly elusive it's often best to listen at dusk in early summer when "churring" males can be heard as they try to attract a mate, it's actually a bit freaky the first time you hear them as the call sounds very mechanical and a bit eerie. I remember as a boy going with my late father to a couple of locations in the Stoner Valley area and listening to them churr away, it was very exciting as a boy and memories like these will always stick with me. Sadly over time the Nightjars stopped returning to this little haunt of theirs and it was sometime until I got to hear and see them again, this time it was with the TABCG on the first of many Nightjar walks I have done with them.
The area around Theale has a good number of suitable locations to try and attract Nightjar and the yearly walk never fails to impress, each year we seem to getter better sightings and very close views. On a number of occasions we have had them hover near us or fly just in front of us before they disappear in to the failing light and begin to "churr". It doesn't end there either as the resident Woodcocks put on a good show as they continually rode above us throughout the evening and there's always a chance of Tawny Owls, Badgers, Deer and now Glow Worms!
To view the Theale Area Bird Conservation Group website click TABCG
The video clips were filmed this year (2009), look out for the Woodcock passing overhead at the end of the Nightjar clip, it's dusk so don't expect miracles!