The Sherwood Forest Nightjar Project

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Where are they now?

Posted by on February 4, 2014 at 12:55 AM Comments comments (1978)

As we head into what is already becoming a busy February I often find myself wondering where the nightjars are now. According to the study of Cresswell and Edwards (2013) our nightjars are likely to remain in central Africa until mid-late March. I wonder if the nightjars have site fidelity in their African wintering grounds like they do here, or whether they vary their locations? Back in the UK we are beginning to get things sorted for the new season - talking of site fidelity we recently caught two lesser redpoll which had been ringed a year ago (to the day) just a few kilometres from their new location. It would certainly be interesting if this became a common phenomenon in birds across different orders! Tags have to be sourced and we need to plan which individual nightjars to target and what configurations will be most lucrative in answering questions!

We are also planning an education project, using the nightjars as a central theme. Please get in touch with any ideas for that using the "get involved" tab on this website.

Winter blues

Posted by on December 28, 2013 at 3:00 PM Comments comments (15)

It has been four months since we were out in the forest each night on the lookout for nightjars, and winter is starting to drag! However, it is an important time to gather ideas, crunch some numbers and plan the coming field season. We are currently planning more work with GPS tags and writing up our results from the pilot study that was such a success last year - with eight out of 11 of our tag deployments resulting in beautiful, beautiful data! Of course, we can only do better in the coming year with the chance to deploy tags earlier and better target individuals which are most likely to be representative of the whole population. The possibility of following these brilliant birds to their over-wintering destination all the way in sub-Saharan Africa seemed like such a long way off until recently... but watch this space.

2013 has proved an interesting year for people working on nightjars, with the publication of the first geolocator-tracking nightjar study by Cresswell and Edwards (2013) and with publications on patch selection from eastern Europe by Stasiak et al. (2013) pushing our understanding of this species further! The next step has to be a mechanistic understanding of the factors influencing the types of habitat which nightjars will disperse to. How will they expand to novel sites or return to sites at which they have become extinct? New GPS trackers mean that it is a very exciting time to be studying tricky nocturnal birds!