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Search for Quail & Nightjar in staffordshire

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Old Tuesday 25th July 2006, 16:10   #1
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Search for Quail & Nightjar in staffordshire

I spent yesterday evening close to home, searching for the above at two well-known midlands locations.

Whitemoor Haye, near Alrewas and just off the A38 was visited between 7.30pm and 9pm, as I searched for Quail. Again I heard them but no chance of even the briefest glimpse. 2 well-reported birds briefly called from the corn field south of the microlight strip, then I watched finches by the first corn field (close to the workings and old farmhouse). Upto 20 Tree Sparrows flitted around sun-drenched bushes by the lane, so i pulled over to watch. A much bigger Corn Bunting offered fine views. Swallows & Starlings were being pursued by a Sparrowhawk overhead. The Corn Bunting flew across the lane into the corn field where I noted around 7 more - many stood upright like I imagine Quail might look like! Indeed a 3rd Quail was heard in this field, and i got quite close to it. Reed Buntings, Whitethroat, Dunnock & best of all a cracking summer-plummage male Whinchat were also perched up showing well in the same field. No Quail seen but still quite good.

I moved on to Cannock Chase, parking on the opposite side of the road to the famous Katyn Memorial spot, by the cafe. There is an obvious felled clearing here which was superb for Nightjar last year, and only two minutes walk from the car. At the far end (just 2 mins away) is an obvious dead tree (the only tree), the Nightjars favour this area imparticularly and sometimes perch on it. I have found the best way to see them is walk just past the tree, and you come to a crossroads of paths - take the right path and walk down about 50 yards....tuck yourself in quietly underneath the trees at the edge of the forset overlooking the clear fell area. True to form, at 9.30pm churring started. They call from the trees bordering the clear fell area. By keeping very still and quiet I had male and female fly around me to a couple of yards, and one even went to the ground and called for a minute from the dirt track nearby. Scope views were enjoyed, shame light was fading badly but i could see the white wing bar, pale throat and wide open "churring" gape. In flight the males white wingtips and tail tips were obvious, and obviously lacking in the female. Superb stuff. Last year here there was up to 3 pairs, maybe just the one pair this year but this area of Cannock Chase- Spring Glade I believe it is called - has rewarded me for two years running with my best ever views of Nightjar. I left at 10pm satisfied with an excellent evening's birding. Just those bloody Quail I need to see one day!
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Old Tuesday 25th July 2006, 19:41   #2
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Sounds like a good evening out wolfbirder. I always think that farmland is a much undervalued habitat by birders. I am fortunate that my work involves a lot of farmland surveys and I really appreciate the opportunities it gives me to get close to species like corn and reed buntings, whitethroats, grey partridge, tree sparrows and linnets.

I too have never seen a quail in this country, although I hear them most summers (not this one). I would think it is the one bird that most birders have heard but never seen.

You were fortunate to get good views of the corn buntings too - an under appreciated bird and one that has undergone a catastrophic population decline - we have only 800 singing males left in Scotland - rarer than the capercaillie or corncrake.

As for nightjars - we can only wish up here.
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Old Wednesday 26th July 2006, 09:44   #3
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I do agree farmland birding is enjoyable, infact i wish I had stayed longer but the lure of the Nightjars was too strong. The Corn buntings are always lovely to see I agree.

If you ever down this way let me know I will check out areas and show you the nightjars (no guarantees of course but a very good chance).
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