This article first appeared in The West Midland Bird Report for 1958.
Names and spellings were used as given. Sutton Park was then in Warwickshire, but has been in the West Midlands county since 1974.
The Nightjar is now known as the “European Nightjar” (Caprimulgus europaeus). For their current status, please see our county lists.
In the West Midland Bird Club Report No. 24 for 1957 a comprehensive account of the status and distribution of the Nightjar was given, and at the same time the results of the 1957 survey were published. This survey was repeated during 1958, when particular attention was paid both to ensure that all areas covered during 1957 were visited in the following year, and to attempt to cover further areas where there were indications that the species had occurred in the past. It is a tribute to the keenness of some of our members that 15 further areas were searched, and that of the areas covered during 1957 all but one were visited again in 1958. The most disappointing omission has been the poor coverage of Cannock Chase.
One more record of historical interest has come to light. It appears that in the 1920's two eggs of the Nightjar were found at a nest in bracken at Purley Park, near Atherstone, Warwickshire, and that up to 1950 a bird was sometimes to be heard churring at Whittington, also near Atherstone.
A summary of the results in this year compared with previous experience is given in the table below.
|Locality||Year last seen/heard||Churring Birds, 1957||Churring Birds, 1958|
|1.||Sutton Park||1958||1 (15/6–18/6 only)||1 (16/6 only)|
|2.||Ragley Park and Estate||1958||Not visited||4–5|
|3.||Oakley Wood||1947||Not visited||Nil|
|4.||Moreton Morrell||1956||Not visited||Nil|
|5.||Compton Verney||-||Not visited||Nil|
|6.||Walton Park (near Wellesboume Hastings)||-||Not visited||Nil|
|7.||Oversley Wood||1951||Not visited||Nil|
|Total for Warwickshire||2||6–7|
|Total for areas visited in 1957 and 1958||2||2|
|Locality||Year last seen/heard||Churring birds,1957||Churring Birds,1958|
|10.||Witley Court Estate||ca. 1950||Nil||Nil|
|14.||Abbot's Morton||1955||Not visited||Not visited|
|15.||Habberley Valley||1951||Not visited||Nil|
|16.||Malvern area (Foxhall; Storridge Woods)||1957||2||Nil|
|17.||Kidderminster area (Rifle Range — Devil's Spittleful)||1958||2||1 (7/6 and 23/6 only)|
|Total for Worcestershire||4||4|
|Total for areas visited in 1957 and 1958||4||4|
|Locality||Year last seen/heard||Churring Birds,1957||Churring Birds,1958|
|(a) Gun, near Heaton||-||Not visited||Nil|
|(b) Barnswood, near Rudyard Lake||-||Not visited||Nil|
|20.||Aqualate and Gnosall||1955||Not visited||Nil|
|21.||Kinver Edge||1953||Not visited||Nil|
|(a) Brindley Heath||1952||Not visited||Not visited|
|(b) Shoal Hill||1957||1||Not visited|
|(c) Seven Springs||1958||3||1|
|24.||Shoul's Woods and Blythebank||-||Not visited||Nil|
|25.||Chartley Park||1958||Not visited||1 +|
|26.||Needwood Forest (Hoar Cross: Newchurch)||Not visited||Nil|
|27.||Enville Heath (Kinver Forest) and Enville Common||-||12||16|
|29.||Chillington Park||1958||ca. 5||4|
|Total for Staffordshire||30||31|
|Total for areas visited in 1957 and 1958||29||30|
The 1958 Survey makes it apparent that numbers were very much the same as in 1957. It is also obvious that the two especially favoured habitats are dry tree/ heath, with birch and bracken the dominants (7 cases) and young conifer plantations (4 cases). The latter habitat is not peculiar to any one county, but it is interesting that the only ones which have had Nightjars are in Staffordshire — Bagot's Park, Chartley Park, Enville Heath and Chillington Park — and that they had over 80% of the birds found in Staffordshire and 65% of the birds found in all three counties. These four areas suffer little disturbance — the public have only limited access or are prohibited altogether — but the continuance of the present numbers of Nightjar in the West Midlands seems largely to depend upon re-afforestation. Less favoured habitats could be grouped as clearings and rides with bracken in mature conifer plantations (1 case), devastated or felled woodland (2 cases) and one case of three churring birds in a deciduous plantation with dense under-growth (species unknown) at Ragley Park.
The results of the 1958 Survey would not have been possible but for the energy and enterprise of the following:— Mrs. M. Palmer-Smith, Miss A. P. Wood, Messrs. G. A. and M. A. Arnold, T. K. Beck, R. J. Bradney, S. C. Brown, F. Colley, A. W. Cundall, A. T. Edwards, F. Fincher, T. W. Ford, A. J. Harthan, M. D. Higgins, D. F. Hope, G. M. Ireson, E. C. Lacy, G. M. Lewis, C. C. Owen, C. R. L. Reece, J. Sears, K. H. Thomas, P. Till and W. B. Yapp.
A. R. M. Blake.
Ornithology in Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire & the West Midlands county, since 1929.
Fetched fromon Monday 20 May 2013 10:06:15
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