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The elusive nightjar – once under threat of extinction in many areas just 40 years ago – has once again return to North Yorkshire’s woodlands in strong numbers.
The nocturnal bird, famed for its churring love call and aerobatic courtship dance, has made local Forestry Commission woods its key summer stronghold in northern Britain.
A recent survey found 73 churring males in 3,000-hectare (7,500-acre) Langdale Forest, near Pickering – a similar number to last summer's record levels.
Some experts suggest that there may be well over 500 nightjar pairs in the 22,400-hectare (56,000-acre) public forest estate in North Yorkshire.
To celebrate the revival forest chiefs are staging two nightjar walks to allow the public to experience the bird’s magical twilight serenade.
They take place in Dalby Forest on Friday 1 July and in Cropton Forest the following evening. But you will need to book to take part on 01751 472771.
Mick Douch, Chief Wildlife Ranger, said:
“Nightjars are active at night and superbly well camouflaged so they are incredibly difficult to study. But working with the Forest Bird Study Group we're trying to find out more by ringing some the birds. Long term that may help answer whether the same bird occupies the same territory each year after returning from winter migration. But what isn’t in doubt is the bird's magical quality, which makes a mid-summer night in the forest so special."
Other nightjar hotspots include Wykeham Forest, near Scarborough, and Boltby Wood, near Thirsk.
A key to the bird’s improved fortunes in recent decades is the availability of felled areas which provide an ideal ground nesting environment, offering shelter and insect life to feed on.
The walks cost £5 per person and set out at 9.30pm. Wear warm clothing and suitable footwear. The event is not suitable for dogs.
Rendezvous details will be given at time of booking.
Notes to Editor
- Nightjar numbers crashed due to a decline in the bird's traditional heathland nesting habitat. Facing a bleak future, some birds improvised and used recently felled woodland areas to nest. That proved an inspired move and now nightjars numbers are on the up, further boosted by heathland restoration projects elsewhere.
- The Forestry Commission is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. Further information can be found at new Forestry Commission website for Yorkshire and the Humber at www.forestry.gov.uk/yorkshireandthehumber
Media contact: Richard Darn 0775 367 0038.