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 survey underway in 3,000-hectare (7,500-acre) Langdale Forest, between Whitby and Pickering, has so far recorded 73 churring males with two more areas to be checked, meaning last summer’s record numbers are set to be toppled.
Pickering-based Mick Carroll, from the Forest Bird Study Group, estimates that there could 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 allowing people to experience the bird’s 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, or by calling in at Dalby Forest Visitor Centre.
Mick Douch, Chief Wildlife Ranger, said:
“Nightjars are active at night and superbly well camouflaged so they are incredibly difficult to study. 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 this year include Wykeham Forest, near Scarborough, and Boltby Wood, near Thirsk.
A key to the bird’s improved fortunes is the availability of felled areas which provide an ideal ground nesting environment, offering shelter and insect life to feed on.
Mick Carroll added:
“We’re bidding to find out more about nightjars by ringing some the birds each year. Long term that may help answer whether the same individual occupies the same territory after returning from winter migration. Birds are doing well in the forests and even cuckoos and Turtles Doves seem around in greater numbers. But the soaring nightjar numbers are a real headline grabber. ”
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.