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Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Identify and index birds in Southern Africa

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Albert
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Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby Albert » Wed Nov 06, 2013 12:18 pm

Ok, so I was kept awake almost the entire night of November 4 in Tamboti ( :D :D :D ) by Nightjar(s) (I am assuming the (s)) calling incessantly in the surrounding trees. Now the (stupid) question I have is: Apart from the obvious, i.e taking a torch and stalking the birds, is there another way of observing these birds? I also have a Fiery-Necked Nightjar (one of the Tamboti callers) visit every now and then in the trees around my house in Stellenbosch (either that or someone with a recording is screwing with me); yet I have not seen this bird!

By the way, the reason I did not do the stalking with a torch bit in Tamboti is because I had no torch (unplanned visit). Made the midnight walk on a moonless night to the ablutions quite interesting!
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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby DotDan » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:08 pm

Not a stupid question at all Albert. Nightjars are very difficult to see due to their nocturnal nature and I am pretty sure that stalking them on foot is equally daunting.

I have found, in the KNP, the best way to find them is to go on a Night drive, not sunset drive. They are normally all over the tar and gravel roads. Now if you have a nature loving guide who is patient enough on that drive, I am sure he will stop and keep the spotlight on them for you to look at them.

Or better yet, book yourself in on a Big Birding weekend in KNP which is held twice a year (under correction) in November and February. Then the guides actually have to stop and help look for Nightjars :D

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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby johanclassen » Wed Nov 06, 2013 3:35 pm

I also have a Fiery-Necked Nightjar (one of the Tamboti callers) visit every now and then in the trees around my house in Stellenbosch (either that or someone with a recording is screwing with me); yet I have not seen this bird!


Hi Albert, If I may add my proverbial pennies worth. I dont think anyone is screwing with your head. I heard and spotted these Fiery-Necked Nightjar's in Swellendam also at Bontebok. So yes, with all the nice hiding places and insects in Stellenbosch, why not? Anyway my distribution map shows that they are there.Otherwise concur with DotDan :thumbs_up:

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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby pnm » Sat Dec 07, 2013 11:53 am

Hi Albert

I live in Paarl and have on two occasions each time for about three nights in a row have had a nightjar calling from a tree very close to house (we abutt a park). Only on one occasion did I get to see it - I got a glimpse of it in the torchlight as it flew away. The reason I was not able to stalk it (it was perched on a telephone pole about 20m from my back door) is that I have movement sensors that switch on for security reasons so as I tried to slip out the back door I was caught by my own security! I at least got a glimpse as it flew away. I have also heard the Good Lord deliver us call on a farm near Wellington.

In the KNP we took a night drive at Biyamiti and the guide was superb - he knew I was a birder (because I told him) so he hunted up two species for me. Both times the birds froze in the road and he got them square in the headlights from close while I upped ISO to 1600 and got fair photos with a Canon SX30 which is hardly hi-tech these days. If I can find the photos I'll try to post them. Give me until to tonight. I have to search a bit. He also knew where the eagles roosted so I got two more species including a new tick. I regret I cannot remember his name but he got a fat tip from me at the end of the evening!

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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby pnm » Sun Dec 08, 2013 6:30 pm

Here are the two nightjars from Biyamiti.

Image

Image

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Albert
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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby Albert » Mon Mar 10, 2014 8:38 am

In answer to my own question; finding a Fiery-Necked Nightjar is quite simple. You get into your car, back out of your driveway and drive down the street at exactly 19:45 on March 9, and there it is! Right in the middle of the tarred street.
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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby pnm » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:07 am

Great to hear, Albert.

What was the other lifer?

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Albert
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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby Albert » Tue Mar 11, 2014 9:35 am

Ahem...

Hartlaub's Gull :redface:

Have not paid much attention to the gulls and plovers up to now (on the to do list)

This one was sitting near my car when I returned from my 110 km cycle around the cape peninsula on Sunday....
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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby Bush Baptist » Tue Mar 11, 2014 12:46 pm

Looks like you kept your eye on the road on Sunday Albert, and not on the birds. :roll:



Well you might have seen a Cape gannet out to sea. :whistle: :tongue:
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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby ross hawkins » Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:57 pm

@pnm I'm going to hazard a guess at the nightjars you've put here if I may?

The first one looks to possibly be a female Square-tailed Nightjar. The lack of rufous on the back of the neck to me rules out fiery-necked and you can just make out the cinnamon-buff outer tail feathers which points to Square-tail.

The second bird looks to be another female, this time European Nightjar. Along with the Freckled Nighjar and Pennant-winged Nightjars, these birds have no or very little white markings on the wings when perched on the ground, also the rufous flight feathers showing on the bird also points to European.

This is one family of birds that I too have been trying to get my head around and maybe I might be getting there, not sure though.

Thanks

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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby Johan van Rensburg » Fri Apr 11, 2014 5:45 am

Hi Ross. I can't fault your ID of bird #2. The generally grey appearance also points to European.

As far as bird #1 is concerned, I like your approach, but find the white spots in the primary flight feathers at odds with your conclusion as the wing spots of a female Square-tailed nightjar tends to be smaller and a shade of red/brown. STs usually shows a little red around the collar (which can disappear if the featheres are worn) and a black crown, both of which I fail to find in the nightjar in question. I lean a little toward it being another European nightjar, but I cannot really come up with an alternative suggestion with which I'm fully comfortable, though. Nightjars are very tough challenges to ID at best of times and this one is just beyond me. Maybe another 'mite may have some ideas.
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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby ross hawkins » Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:46 pm

Hi Johan

Thanks for the response. Ye Nightjar I.D. is a constant work in progress. Getting others perspective makes the job a little easier. I see what you mean about the white spots, this was also an odditiy to me, in that when I get to see Nightjars I always look for these spots or the lack of them. This was why I didn't go with European in this example. I do agree with you in that there is no other bird that I would tag a name to, so lets see if this can go a bit further.

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Re: Nightjars...a (stupid) question

Unread postby Meandering Mouse » Mon Apr 14, 2014 1:34 pm

Albert I love your question. It is the kind of useful information I would not think of asking until too late.

Pnm, what lovely :cam: The only time I have ever had a good look at Nighjars has been on night drives with good guides.
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