Monday, July 8, 2013

Nightjar Chicks

Last Saturday I drove down to the BTO headquarters in Thetford to attend the OSME general meeting, more of which later. After the event had closed at around 5.00pm I took some time to visit a part of Thetford Forest to take a couple of photos of Nightjar chicks. A friend was looking for Adders last week when he flushed a female Nightjar and in doing so he located the nest which contained two recently hatched chicks. So armed with a 400mm lens, so that I could shoot from a reasonable distance as well as a 70mm lens to get shots that shows the nest site, we strode purposefully into the forest!

Typical Nightjar habitat in Thetford Forest
It was particularly hot and as it was not yet really evening there was not much in the way of bird activity. A couple of Wood Pigeons flew over and a Yellowhammer was singing from a nearby pine as we approached the site. The female took flight as we neared the nest and pitched in to an oak about thirty metres away. She was obviously keeping an eye on us and we suspected that the male was probably resting up pretty close by too.
Nightjar chick - close-up
Not wanting to get too close or to be too long at the site I took pictures using the 400mm lens. The chicks had their eyes open and were both looking healthy and well. These birds prefer open areas in which to nest, especially lowland heath, clear felled areas in forests and young conifer plantations

Spot the chicks!
The nest (which really is a misnomer as there isn't one) is a slight scrape at most and more often just a suitable patch of ground as was this one - as can be seen in the photos.

Nightjar's nest!

Nightjar chicks at approximately one week old.

 The young rely on their cryptic camouflage and by remaining still to avoid being detected. I was told that when they are handled by licenced ringers they remain perfectly still and calm and do not need to be placed in bags as they are so sure of their invisibility they don't really think they are being handled at all...because nobody can really see them!

Nightjar chicks

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