Sunday, 1 June 2014

The Story of the Nightjar and the Eagle


I bet that caught your attention!  

We had our annual evening venture to Holt Heath for Nighthars and Woodcock, as usual a very successful walk.  In the car park we heard Goldcrests and nearby Song Thrush singing and Great Spotted Woodpeckers “chipped” with one eventually seen.  Coming out from the woods into an open area we then started to hear Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler.  
Nightjar over the heath © Nick Hull

On to the heathland it was quiet to start with but soon we heard a Cuckoo followed by an excellent view of one flying.  A Willow Warbler sat up high on top of a Silver Birch singing and giving good views through the scope.   Unfortunately the Yellowhammer singing below didn’t stay for us all to see properly.  A Stonechat did briefly put in an appearance, as did Linnet.

It was only about 9.15p.m. when I heard the first call of a roding Woodcock and soon spotted it flying just over tree height and over part of the heath and then over the wood further up.  Then another one and another!  Great good views of Woodcock now for the Nightjars.  We didn’t wait long before we heard Churring, again coming from the woodland area but soon a pair flew over to the heath, from then on we had good views especially as the light was still good.  Eventually with the light now seriously fading we headed back to the cars.

The next morning we had errands to do when news came through from Paul Morton a fellow Poole Harbour birder that he had a Short-toed Eagle at Morden Bog in Wareham Forest.  Wow!  Such an amazing find but it had flown, however news came through in the afternoon it had been seen flying back into the area, we had to go.  It was George Green that actually found it in the end sat up in a tree, easily viewed from a ridge that meant birders didn’t need to go near and perhaps flush it.
Short-toed Eagle - Morden Bog © Nick Hull
This was only the third record, if accepted, for Britain. This magnificent bird was just 10 minutes drive down the road from where we live,  It looked quite majestic and the way it turned it’s head round was almost owl like and the feathers on the back of its head appeared like a short crest.  

While watching this bird and chatting to fellow birders Nick spotted a Nightjar sat on a branch, he just got in the scope when it silently flew out the back out of view.  After 3 hours and the Eagle seemed to be settling to roost we left.  A fantastic 24 hours birding.

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