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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 09:54   #1
RockyRacoon
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Smile tips for heath birds

I'm not new to birding, but need tips on how to watch the following at heaths: Dartford warbler, Woodlark, Tree pipit, Woodcock and Nightjar.

Its just that I rarely bird watch on heaths, I usually look for lizards and snakes...


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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 10:12   #2
robinm
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I'm no real expert but I'll put in my view.

The best thing with all of these is to identify their call/song. Once you know these it will be easier to locate the birds and see them.

Woodcock and nightjar are best at dusk.

Woodcock male fly around looking for females (roding). They have a call which is a sort of low grunt followed by squeaking. Once you have identified where they are flying they are much easier to see because they fly virtually the same circuit time and again.

Nightjar male produce the unmistakeable churring. If you approach near to one they will sometimes fly round you and perform their wing flapping display. The males have very noticeable white wing spots.

All of these birds require patience!
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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 10:32   #3
tom mckinney
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Get up nice and early for Dartford Warbler and check out any song that sounds vaguely "scratchy". Their call is a distinctive "scolding" sound, something like "chrrrrrrr." It's a good time of year to see them as they are quite active at the moment.

Woodlark can usually be located quite easily if you know the call - get hold of a recording or have a search on-line.

Tree Pipit are also easy if you know the call - it's a bit "buzzy." Basically, if you see a Meadow Pipit on a tree top going "bzzt" it is actually a Tree Pipit.

Woodcock and Nightjar require a late night out. Woodcock are best viewed from a good vantage point that gives you a view over a wood or plantation. Nightjar start "churring" about 9.30-9.45pm at this time of year. Now is an excellent time to see them. Try clapping your hands to attract them when they are in flight - it sometimes works. Edward also mentioned, in another thread, about holding white pieces of cloth in your hands and flapping your arms to attract them!

Good luck!

Last edited by tom mckinney : Wednesday 9th June 2004 at 10:38. Reason: Dreadful spelling!
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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 10:50   #4
robinm
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
Edward also mentioned, in another thread, about holding white pieces of cloth in your hands and flapping your arms to attract them!
I have tried this and it does work - they have also been attracted to a white hat my wife wears. Maybe they think the white is another male.

I must admit I usually check that no-one is looking before doing my solo Morris dancer impression
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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 11:10   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
Get up nice and early for Dartford Warbler and check out any song that sounds vaguely "scratchy". Their call is a distinctive "scolding" sound, something like "chrrrrrrr." It's a good time of year to see them as they are quite active at the moment.
Also worth adding that it's not all that loud. Similarly their song: it's rather Whitethroat-like; very assured, but quieter. Dartfords can be quite self-effacing birds. You can walk past a gorse bush and there may well be one in it, but you'd never guess. At one site with a good population I've often seen none at all despite trying for a whole afternoon, yet on another day they're all out and about, calling and being very obliging. Never have worked out what it is that makes the difference. Take Tom's advice and get there early.
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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 11:51   #6
Michael Frankis
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tom mckinney
Nightjar start "churring" about 9.30-9.45pm at this time of year
Nope, in mid & late June around the solstice with very late evenings, not until about 11pm. As the nights draw in through July, they start earlier, 9.30 by about the end of July or the beginning of August. They go on churring until late August, even the start of September occasionally.

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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 11:57   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Frankis
Nope, in mid & late June around the solstice with very late evenings, not until about 11pm. As the nights draw in through July, they start earlier, 9.30 by about the end of July or the beginning of August. They go on churring until late August, even the start of September occasionally.

Michael
Nope, at this time of year, ie now, they are coming out at about 9.30pm. How do I know? Because 6 came out between 9.30-9.45pm on monday night at Dunwich Heath.

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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 12:03   #8
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Hi Tom,
Oddly enough,they tend to wait until at least 10pm over here,which is more or less between the times given by you and MF!Would guess that it depends on how early it gets dark in a given area:can imagine it getting dark later in Northumbs than here,as they are further north.
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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 12:09   #9
Michael Frankis
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Hi Harry,

Guess you're right, thinking about it; sunset in late June Norfolk is probably at least 50 minutes earlier than here. In north Northumberland, sunset in late June is 10.02pm, in southeast Northumbs, 9.50pm

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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 12:10   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harry Hussey
Would guess that it depends on how early it gets dark in a given area
I am sure it must do. Last night nightjars started up just after 09:30 at my local site in Kent.
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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 12:22   #11
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How about this for a compromise: half an hour before dark...?
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Old Wednesday 9th June 2004, 12:30   #12
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Look out for the ever conspicuous stonechat, dartfords often use them as sentinels so look closely in the scrub beneath the perch. I find the dartford call reminiscent of an old fashioned cold tap, which has been left half on, a foamy, washy sort of sound. bubbling and irregular. Plus, dartfords are particularly inquisitive to the pshh-pshhh alarm call and will venture within a few feet if there is enough cover - its worth noting though that they are less inclined to do so in the nesting season.
Circling a white hanky over your head at dusk can bring nightjars in close - giving fantastic views and justifying thier alternative name of nighthawk.
Heaths are my favourite summer habitat to explore, for all types of wildlife - have fun!
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Old Monday 14th June 2004, 14:50   #13
RockyRacoon
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Smile

Thanks all, I am probably 'Heath watching' tonight, I'll post in your birding dy with a result!
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