NIGHTJARNIGHTJAR (CUPRIMULGUS EUROPEUS)
LOCAL BIODIVERSITY ACTION PLAN
Nightjars are most often seen flying at dusk and dawn catching insects. A nightjar’s plumage is coloured grey-brown with a mottled, streaked and barred appearance providing the perfect camouflage. They also have pointed wings and long tails. Nightjars are most often found on heathlands, moorlands and in open woodland clearings. Nightjars are migratory and arrive in the UK between April and May and leave in August and September.
The nightjar is a UKBAP Priority Species and the action plan can be viewed at www.ukbap.org.uk/UKPlans.aspx?ID=186. The nightjar is a red list species on the list of Birds of Conservation Concern (RSPB 1998), its range having declined in the UK by over 50% during the last 25 years. It is a species concentrated in Europe and is listed as a SPEC 2 species as it is undergoing a modest decline in Europe. The nightjar is listed under Annex I of the EC Birds Directive and Appendix II of the Bern Convention.
Historically in the Cheshire region the nightjar was 'local but widely distributed' but by the late 1930's it appeared to be following the national trend of decline. Although the national BTO nightjar census carried out in 1981 and 1992 failed to find any churring (vocalising) males, in the Cheshire Region nightjars breed in 2 areas close to the county border, and some potentially suitable habitat appears to exist in the Cheshire region.
Nationally the decline in nightjar is attributed to the loss and degradation of heathland, intensive farming, disturbance whilst breeding and loss of clear fell forestry plantation. Action for nightjar in the Cheshire region forms part of the Heathland Action Plan.
References & Glossary
Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society: Cheshire and Wirral Bird Reports.
Guest et al (1992): The breeding Bird Atlas of Cheshire and Wirral. Cheshire and Wirral Ornithological Society.
RSPB (1995): Species Action Plan 0778 Nightjar Cuprimulgus europeus.
Shorrock (1976): The Atlas of Breeding Birds in Britain and Ireland. T & D Byser.