Visit to Cann Woods on 12th June

Twenty members and friends of Devon Birds Plymouth Branch met at Cann Woods, Plympton, at 9:00pm, for our now annual Nightjar Walk. 

I, Chris Marcol, again acted as leader for our fourth year to this site, and as an introduction, gave a brief talk on the life history of the Nightjar, Caprimulgus europaeus, and of my personal studies of the Cann Wood colony over the past 17 years, concluding that it has remained fairly stable over this period.

Being overcast the viewing conditions were slightly less than perfect, so given the recent fickle nature of our weather the group was fortunate in having a number of good sightings of these enigmatic birds.

Our first stop was in a location in the middle of the wood where one pair has been showing reliably over recent days.  After a short wait the first churring was heard from the edge of the clearing at around 9:40.  Once he stopped singing, there was a brief pause and then a single bird was spotted flying quickly close past the group.  With only a few catching a glimpse, the cry of “Nightjar” went up from a few.  It wasn’t however a Nightjar but a Cuckoo!  This was the cause of some slight amusement after I had declared in the introduction that, unusually, there were no Cuckoos in the wood this year!

Moving on to one of the ‘hotspots’ the group was treated to at least four more churring males, now accompanied by several flight views of both males and females in the last light of the day.

Due to the lateness of the hour, few other birds were seen, but several Tawny Owls, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Wren and Willow Warbler were all heard.  A few Pipistrelle bats hunting along the woodland edge were the sole mammalian sighting of the evening.

Chris Marcol