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Seeing Nightjar and Quail in flight

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Old Tuesday 11th June 2019, 22:12   #1
Sharp Shin
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Seeing Nightjar and Quail in flight

This is the time of year for trying to see two scarce birds that are usually well-hidden: Nightjar and Quail. Both birds are usually located by their ‘song’, but the chances of seeing them is usually in flight. Recent experience has led me to a tentative hypothesis which may (or may not) be helpful. For Nightjar, their ‘churring’ is often linked to their ‘clapping’ display flight. So, the chances of seeing a Nightjar take flight are best directly after it stops ‘singing’. For Quail, their three-part ‘song’ is not linked to any display flight. During and after males having expanded the energy in a repeated ‘wet-my-lips’ song for a period, they are likely (I suppose) to stay in the same spot for a while to see if there is any female response. Hence, these birds are not likely to take flight after stopping singing. Your best bet of seeing Quail break flight is probably when they have been quiet for a while. Well, that was my experience in Suffolk today.

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Last edited by Sharp Shin : Wednesday 12th June 2019 at 11:09.
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Old Tuesday 11th June 2019, 23:08   #2
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Best way to see Quail in flight is, where you know of a field where one has been calling, get on good terms with the farmer and ask him to let you know when he will be harvesting. Then get in a place where you can watch just in front of the harvester (best of all, if the farmer will give you a lift!) to see them getting flushed. They look just like brown Little Auks
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 04:54   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sharp Shin View Post
This is the time of year for trying to see two scarce birds that are usually well-hidden: Nightjar and Quail. Both birds are usually located by their ‘song’, but the chances of seeing them is usually in flight. Recent experience has led me to a tentative hypothesis which may (or may not) be helpful. For Nightjar, their ‘churning’ is often linked to their ‘clapping’ display flight. So, the chances of seeing a Nightjar take flight are best directly after it stops ‘singing’. For Quail, their three-part ‘song’ is not linked to any display flight. During and after males having expanded the energy in a repeated ‘wet-my-lips’ song for a period, they are likely (I suppose) to stay in the same spot for a while to see if there is any female response. Hence, these birds are not likely to take flight after stopping singing. Your best bet of seeing Quail break flight is probably when they have been quiet for a while. Well, that was my experience in Suffolk today.

Stewart
The sound they make is called churring not 'churning' and one reason for the difficulty in seeing European Nightjars in flight, is that they usually don't become properly active until after dark.
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 06:06   #4
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I've always found Nightjars quite easy to see on Cannock Chase, on a moonlit evening, but never seen one in daylight.

I've seen 2 Quail in flight for about 3-5 seconds each time in the UK. Flushed a few abroad such as in Portugal. But they are much harder than Nightjar and require patience and luck, and probably repeat visits.
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 06:32   #5
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Originally Posted by andyadcock View Post
The sound they make is called churring not 'churning' and one reason for the difficulty in seeing European Nightjrs in flight, is that they usually don't become properly active until after dark.
Thanks Andy. My typing error there - yes, ‘churring’. Funny how typos happen. By the way, they are called ‘Nightjars’ not ‘Nightjrs’.

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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 07:27   #6
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Thanks Andy. My typing error there - yes, ‘churring’. Funny how typos happen. By the way, they are called ‘Nightjars’ not ‘Nightjrs’.

Stewart
A clear typo whereas 'churning' is actually another word....
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 08:46   #7
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Heard lots of Quail abroad but never seen one. Would love to see one. I hope I get to see one in the North West of England this year.
How often do they show when on a territory?
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 09:34   #8
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No too frequently fro me

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Heard lots of Quail abroad but never seen one. Would love to see one. I hope I get to see one in the North West of England this year.
How often do they show when on a territory?
There have been birds calling in Lytham and Freckleton this year but I have had only one sighting, if you look at Fylde Bird Club sightings page your will see others have been more successful.
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 09:38   #9
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I have Nightjar territories within walking distance of my house, up to three territories that I know, and also New Forest is a stronghold. I don't find them that difficult to see, either in the evenings with patience where there are calling birds, or in daytime when it's always a case of stumbling across them, then avoiding that area for the rest of the summer. I average maybe 2-3 sightings a year. (Wierdest sighting for me was in the ferry terminal at Newhaven at Dusk, one flew right over my head in the car park.)

Quail, I find a totally different proposition, 1 sighting in over 20 years, maybe hear a calling bird every few years or so.

It would be interesting to know if someone who lives near Quail territories has the opposite experience to me.. i.e. regularly putting up Quails! Nightjar a real challenge
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 11:06   #10
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Thanks for these responses to my post. I suppose that I was trying to make a point about the activity of birding, especially when this involves periods of patience and concentrated attention, and particularly in relation to Nightjars and Quail. Trying to actually see a Quail, when it’s general location is indicated by its song, usually involves particularly long periods of patience. In these circumstances attention and focus may stray (and a conversation with a neighbouring birder might start!). I was suggesting that if trying see Nightjars, it helps to focus your attention at the moment the bird stops singing. However, with Quail you might not have to focus your attention whilst the bird is singing or immediately when it stops. Rather, you probably need to focus your attention, say, 15 minutes or more after it has stopped singing. It is then that the bird might give up on the prospect of a solicited female dropping in, and decide to try a different spot. This is just a thought based on pretty meagre experience. No ground-breaking science claimed.

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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 11:26   #11
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I have Nightjar territories within walking distance of my house, up to three territories that I know, and also New Forest is a stronghold. I don't find them that difficult to see, either in the evenings with patience where there are calling birds, or in daytime when it's always a case of stumbling across them, then avoiding that area for the rest of the summer. I average maybe 2-3 sightings a year. (Wierdest sighting for me was in the ferry terminal at Newhaven at Dusk, one flew right over my head in the car park.)

Quail, I find a totally different proposition, 1 sighting in over 20 years, maybe hear a calling bird every few years or so.

It would be interesting to know if someone who lives near Quail territories has the opposite experience to me.. i.e. regularly putting up Quails! Nightjar a real challenge

I've never managed a sighting in Notts, even at dusk, birds don't even start churring until it's pretty much, completely dark.
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 13:28   #12
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Nightjars are virtually impossible during full daylight - I've only ever seen one in daylight, flushed accidentally while doing some botanical survey in a young conifer plantation. But they're easy to see as silhouettes at dusk.

Quail are never easy to see at any time of day or night, though I have seen 6 flushed by combine harvesters (on two occasions, 5 + 1). No doubt more could be seen by running through wheat fields, but I'm not Theresa May
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 15:16   #13
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Nightjars are virtually impossible during full daylight - I've only ever seen one in daylight, flushed accidentally while doing some botanical survey in a young conifer plantation. But they're easy to see as silhouettes at dusk.

Quail are never easy to see at any time of day or night, though I have seen 6 flushed by combine harvesters (on two occasions, 5 + 1). No doubt more could be seen by running through wheat fields, but I'm not Theresa May
Nightjars sometimes churr in broad daylight and sometimes choose prominent roosts. They quite often churr from prominent perches in the evening, in varying degrees of dusk, and often fly before it is fully dark. According to Odd Billy waving white handkerchiefs while prancing through the dusk may convince one you are a love rival, if you don't mind looking a total prat.

Quail do walk around a lot. Chasing them through habitat is almost completely pointless as they will always be just ahead of you, out of sight. Their calls are derisive..... If your barley field (its always seemed to me they favour barley over wheat) has tractor tracks through it, as is quite likely, looking along these may get you views on the deck: or you can watch the crop edge.

Quail four years ago, twitched from RBA info, stood quietly and waited for it to emerge. It then sang in full view.

Nightjar last week, text from my Flickr caption: Daytime Nightjar viewing is a rare privilege. This male had been churring quietly in the background as I was photographing dragonflies and I assumed it was in some fairly distant Gorse. As I was walking back to the car along the Latchmore Brook in the New Forest, Hampshire, it turned out to be in sub-song and much closer. Tucked in close to streamside bushes, it erupted from its roost at the base of a Hawthorn not far in front of me - very startling! By great good fortune it then perched up on a tree branch and I grabbed for my camera, getting a few shots before it flew away towards the Gorse on the open hillside.

Persevere with patience, and be lucky.

John
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 15:51   #14
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Quail

Find one caliing in sparse grass, early in the season:
http://www.surfbirds.com/gallery/sha...5144120659.JPG

cheers, alan
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Old Wednesday 12th June 2019, 19:59   #15
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My first ever observation of Quail was visual (a short flight above a meadow) and since then I only always hear them - across various WP locations, the sound is a pretty common occurrence, but seeing them is hard. I guess they could be flushed by walking in the right direction, but I don't feel the need to do it. The same with Nightjar - I first saw it in a forest clearing after sunset, but with still some light, flying around me, sometimes very close, and hunting. Since then I always only hear them; but I heard of a guy who stumbled upon one roosting above a frequented biking path, it's just about looking well enough :) A couple days ago, I saw Red-necked Nightjar in Spain pretty nicely in flight in darkness in torchlight (found as a silhouette against light pollution from a city) and also could watch it sitting on a road near me.

Now Corn and Spotted Crake, those are birds I could hear every day if I wanted, but never saw them, despite the sounds coming from very close distance.
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