Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A Pile of Leaves - Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis)

It's been another busy season with September tours to Austria-Hungary, and two back-to-back tours here on The Strait of Gibraltar with the autumn migration. 
I'll be posting some of the migration photos later when I get more time but right now (up early again...) I thought I'd show some very recent photos of a really special bird.

The Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis) is the larger of the two European Nightjars found in Europe. It's a late migrant and will travel down to Western Africa when the first rains come.

We regularly see and hear it in summer flitting over the garden wall, across the swimming pool hunting moths and other nocturnal insects. These views at home are always very brief but the occasionally I get the chance to show the bird when tour leading.

Hunting at night and sleeping through the heat of the day it's often a very difficult bird to spot on the ground and many times I unwittingly flushed them in the pine forests or mixed woodlands here in SW Spain.

A close up view of that wonderful cryptic plumage and the bird's eyes just open enough to see what threat or danger there is. The bird relies on it's fantastic cryptic plumage, a defensive adaptation, usually a very subtle pattern of browns and greys enabling them to blend in to the background, hence looking through those piles of leaves!

Check those bristles. They help with in-flight feeding!

Here's a photo of a Red-necked Nightjar nesting in spring. We came across the bird by chance, quickly took a few photos and left the area.

Flight shots of this bird without flash photography are always difficult and these three flight shots were taken in late afternoon some years ago, again on an autumn migration tour.

This photo shows a Red-necked Nightjar in the hand to give an idea of of size of the body tail and wings.
Photo Credit: Samuel Lopez Ligero

Distribution map of Red-necked Nightjar