Saturday 2 July 2022

A nocturnal surprise!

When I was a newly qualified 'C' ringer living in Shropshire in 1980  I dreamed of catching a Nightjar. One night, at a local forestry plantation near Pontesbury I even, unexpectedly, had one flying around the nets we had set for general warbler netting. Despite placing a white birdbag in the bottom shelf of every net and even tying moths into the mesh we didn't catch it and it was clearly just passing through as it was never seen again. It was however a very notable sighting for Shropshire at the time. Fast forward 42 years and part of my work is now on Nightjar surveying for wind farm developments. Despite having personally ringed a total of 619 Nightjars (nearly all in Wales) and also retrapped at least 265 individuals I still get a massive buzz every time I catch one. That adrenalin rush was however amplified to an unbelievable level the other night when I extracted a ringed Nightjar from the net and realised immediately that the ring wasn't a BTO ring!

After an agonising search of the car for my glasses I read the word DENMARK! WHAT!!! A Danish-ringed Nightjar (or should that be Natravnen?) clearly breeding in a forestry plantation in North Wales! What on earth is going on there? I now have an equally agonising wait to hear where and when this bird was ringed. Was it ringed on autumn passage so possibly a lost UK bred bird? Was it ringed as a chick? Or was it possibly even ringed by Danish ringers on an expedition to Africa? At least things are a bit quicker these days, when I used to ring Starlings as a student in Aberystwyth we sometimes had to wait five years or more to get the original ringing details back from behind the Iron Curtain! I will of course share the results of this amazing capture as soon as I get them. This is only the fourth foreign-ringed Nightjar ever recovered in Great Britain and the first recorded movement between Denmark and GB. Who says we don't have anything left to discover through traditional ringing methods?