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They don't come much stranger than a nightjar

Simon King Simon King | 17:04 UK time, Friday, 28 May 2010

We've been filming on the heathland in Dorset over the past week, trying to track down some of the unsual creatures that live here. And they don't come much stranger than the nightjar - a nocturnal, insect-eating bird, with long thin wings and a gaping maw, that nests in the scrubland of the Isle of Purbeck.


simon-king-nightjar.jpgWe've been out at dusk trying to get some shots of these elusive, enigmatic creatures. Though we've heard their distinctive churrring calls, we've barely caught a glimpse of them. But a couple of nights ago, I tagged along with a local bird ringing team and finally got a good look at one of our most mysterious birds.




  • Comment number 1.

    Wow Simon, you get all the good gigs! What a dream to get up so close to such a stunning bird ... I think the look of sheer delight on your face speaks volumes!

    Can't wait to see the footage on the show, should be well worth waiting for. Super work as always!

  • Comment number 2.

    I live in a woods with foxes. A vixen has her den under my house - lots of noise at times with me banging on the floor! No cubs this year. I would be interested to know why it is that a soon as I put out scraps for them the seagulls come in. Can they smell the food because they do not hang around my garden.

  • Comment number 3.

    Wow you are so lucky to see a Nightjar that close I'm well jealous! The grin on your face says it all Simon! Really looking forward to your piece about Nightjars they are beautiful birds.

  • Comment number 4.

    Let's hear it, three churrs for Nightjars!

  • Comment number 5.

    Once just missed one (was at work), so someone kindly gave me a photo [of it] instead. Nice!

  • Comment number 6.

    Once had the opportunity of seeing a Nightjar but couldn't - was stuck at work. Just missed seeing it so someone gave me a photograph of this visitor instead. Was so nice of them to do that! :)

  • Comment number 7.

    yesterday I saw an amazing site on Brownsea island,there was a night jar sitting on one of the trees by the lake around the middle of Brownsea island that was chuttering, It was quite hard to find as I just spotted it out of the corner of my eye through my spotascope sadly I didnt see any Hobbys, oh well there's always next time.

  • Comment number 8.

    Seen Nightjars at a very well known sight....amazing!!! l'll never forget that evening, l felt very priviliged.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hope to see some Nightjars in Berkshire in the next few weeks, yaldy!

  • Comment number 10.

    I am hoping to go on a guided walk tomorrow night in North Wales to look for nightjars, bats and owls - if it's not already full that is!!

  • Comment number 11.

    simon i am the man with the blue tits in my parrot cage,we have seen night jar on the road is sway just down the road from us,we watched it for some time as we drove by it flew away on our way back home half hr later it was still on the road in the same spot i think it was feeding on insects that were attracted to the heat coming of the tarmac.That was last summer. Basil

  • Comment number 12.

    how do night jars fly at night

  • Comment number 13.

    Ref Nightjar on the road i should have said that it was daylight when we saw the bird on the road about 7pm in august i shall be looking for it this year Basil

  • Comment number 14.

    We saw two male nightjars this evening as part of the Arne RSPB Nightjar walk and heard quite a few others. A brilliant 2.5hrs spent looking at the wildside of the Dorset heath. Thank you to Toby for an informative evening which has motivated our children to explore more at the Arne reserve....looking forward to seeing Simon's coverage on Iplayer tomorrow morning to see if it will rival our sightings......

  • Comment number 15.

    Back in November we were fishing off the coast of Kenya,out of sight of land when our attention was drawn to a bird following the boat, getting closer and circling the rods, landing on the boat and taking off again flying out to sea skimming the waves. It did this for at least 20 mins. and during the day either the same or another bird returned to repeat the performance. So far from land there were no insects to speak of, so was it feeding? If it continued flying east the next landfall would be the Seychelles – can they fly so far over water? During the early afternoon a bird returned, following the same routine, flying to the boat, resting for seconds and taking off again each time avoiding the protruding rods however this time instead of eventually disappearing out to sea it took up a perch on the flybridge and stayed with us until we returned to shore; only leaving the boat when we were within 20 metres of land. The same thing happened on different days, but was it the same bird? It seems not, as our skipper told us he had seen this behaviour on other occasions along this coast. In fact, just like a pet budgie this particular bird happily landed on any outstretched arm and I have photos to prove it.

  • Comment number 16.

    Nightjars - I suggest that Simon gets a 3 foot stick and ties on the end a white cloth (like a flag). Then when the nightjars are singing!! waves this flag over his head several times. This is guaranteeds to make the nightjars come and have look. They think it is another nightjar due to the white patches on their wings. I have done this several times on our heath in Suffolk, it amuses the children and confuses the nightjars, they actually come very close.

  • Comment number 17.

    Hi Simon...Your programme on nightjars was fascinating-I'm local to the Wareham area so have often seen nightjars myself there.I wondered whether you heard whilst you were in the area that a nightjar was in full view from the lake hide on Brownsea Island and that it was heard churring at midday just a couple of days ago.I saw it sitting on a fence post myself 2 weeks ago and got a photo to prove it.Visitors reported seeing two nightjars at one time! I'm glad you've had such a great time in the Poole area-I feel priviledged to live here!


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