A night in Brandenburg heath: The Eurasian Nightjar

ZiegenmelkerThe late sun of the day still shines through some pine trees. The sun stays already very low, but is not yet set. A discreet purring is suddenly heard from a wood right in the heath landscape in front of me. The calls of the Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) are still much more dominant. But the rhythmic purr of the Eurasian Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) is increasing in volume in the background. Aggressive wasps and importunate little flies are bothering the attentive birder. The time lags between the purring of the Nightjar become more and more shorter. Finally, the male begins to patrol its territory. Slow, excessive wing beats enhance the impression of a relevant actor in the night theatre. It is beautiful to admire the white spots on the tail edge and the primaries. Only a few moment, this event takes place; then the Nightjar has disappeared already in the adjacent ash grove. A short time later, you can hear the singing of the Nightjar from a stationary point of view of right behind the site I am sitting. It is time for a investigation. The search reveals a Nightjar sitting along at a fairly narrow twigg of a birch. In contrary to the relevant literature which always addresses the perfect camouflage at a resting site, the nightjar sits quite exposed on the twigg. The last rays of the sun beautifully illuminate the bird, which otherwise is indeed a typical representative of the night. When the photographer approaches for a photo, the bird holds not long. It flies through the bright Wood of ash and birch with its emphasis wingbeat, thus marking its territory. Area owners of neighboring districts start to sing, too. The song will be presented from now on for hours almost without a break until dawn. The patrols of the current territory owner repeatedly lead past my sitting site. Sometimes you can be hear the peculiar wing clapping and then also the high-pitched calls of the nightjar.

Nightjars inhabit dry, heat-exposed, open landscapes with a sufficient supply of night flying insects. In Europe, its preferred habitat are heath with sparse, sandy pine forests. Even wide open spaces, clear cutting and wind damage areas are often inhabited. In Germany secondary habitats such as military training areas or disused mining sites have become the last relevant remaining refuges where even greater population densities are observed. In the eastern states of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania and Brandenburg you find these areas. These landscapes are characterized by vast heaths, open sandy areas, pine forests and sometimes even shifting dunes. Unfortunately, the former military training areas with sometimes very high, significant population densities show “No Trespassing” – signs. For security reasons large area are not open for the public at all and others you must adhere to the public footpaths or to the access roads to wind turbine parks.

Not only the Eurasian Nightjar is a target species. The attentive ornithologist here has a chance to observe some otherwise rare birds such as the Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris), Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola) and the Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops), too.

There are several sites within easy reach from Berlin. From Berlin you have to drive about 50 km, which takes you by driving the motorways about 1 hour.

In order to satisfy the growing demand for top shots of the rarer species of Palaearctic, Bird-Lens.com has undertaken several trips to near and distant bird areas. This is to be able to do anything to provide excellent images of the birds of the Western Palearctic. The results in images even of rare Western Palaearctic birds are very good. Very nice images Bird-Lens.com could bring back home among others from Europe from Scandinavia (Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark), from Holland, from England, Poland, Austria, France, Portugal, Spain and of course from Germany.

The beautiful image of the blog is only a first impression of what you will find in behind the tag “Picture Shop” very soon. Simply leave a message in the contact form for Bird-Lens.com if you need an image of a bird before all new pictures are online.

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