Caprimulgus europaeus aka European Nightjar. This master of the twilight is one of my all-time favourite birds; with its atmospheric churring call combined with its prepossessing cryptic plumage the European Nightjar is a bird which if you ask any birder they’ll always remember their first. For me my first was 2 years ago at a Camp Site in Mid Wales as on cool summers evening whilst walking to the toilets to check what moths were fluttering around lights, I looked up and there it was, my first ever Nightjar hawking just a few feet above me, an experience I’ll never forget. Since then I’ve been fortunate enough to see many more Nightjar’s in varies sites across Wales but never one in Wirral and in fact a bird I thought I’d never get to see on the Wirral, but that was all about to change.
Whilst I was in school making my way to History I received word that a NIGHTJAR had just been discovered on Hilbre Island and that it was perched on the bench right outside the Bird Obs!!! This is only the 3rd record for Hilbre Island and the first for 48 years! It was also 12 years ago to the day that local birder Jane Turner found the last Wirral record of Nightjar at Red Rocks, which if you look on a map is opposite Hilbre on the mainland.
When I arrived on Hilbre I met up with Steve Williams along with a few other Obs members and birders who were all here getting there final views of the Nightjar before heading back to the mainland before the tide cut the Island off.
Whilst on Hilbre I took some time out to look at the breath taking Geology on the Island; Hilbre has a Fault which formed when the Atlantic Ocean was first forming and some of the captivating cross-bedding textures in the Triassic Desert Sandstone. Hilbre’s just as good for Geology as it is for birdlife.
After getting the best views of Nightjar I’d ever had, caught up with Steve Williams and got some brilliant phone-scoped shots of the Nightjar, I made a mad dash to get off the Island before getting cut-off by the ever rising tide and when I got back to school it turned out wasn’t late for Geography! What a brilliant day: not late for lesson, saw a beautiful bird which I’ll most likely never see again on Wirral and when I got to Geography the whole class was wanting to know more about the bird I went all the way to Hilbre to catch a glimpse of.
A huge congrats to Steve Williams for finding the Nightjar and you can see the latest bird and ringing news from the Hilbre on the Hilbre Bird Observatory Blog.