Nightjar (European Nightjar)
Distribution Britain 274 (-51.2%) Ireland 11 (-88.2%)
Numbers breeding: Britain 3,400 Ireland <30
European status: 240,000 (1% in Britain and Ireland)
British population trend: decline halted, real recent increases
How likely are you to record it? 2 squares (0.0%) Ranked 183=
A hundred years ago the churring of breeding Nightjars could be heard just about throughout the land not in the Western Isles or Orkney or Shetland. However by the 1930s a general decline seems to have set in through much of Britain and, about 20 years later, in Ireland. The loss from Ireland is almost complete with only a handful of records in recent years, but clear-felling starting now of 30 and 40 year-old plantations could lead to a temporary improvement. The birds have dwindled over most of Scotland with no more than 100 pairs, at most, in 1981. Then there may have been almost 2,000 churring males in the whole of England and Wales most in South-east England and Breckland. The losses looked awful when the second Breeding Atlas was produced but already there was a considerable recovery in Breckland 90 pairs in 1974, 168 in 1981 to 300 in 1989 probably by taking advantage of the regular pattern of harvesting the plantations. By 1997 there were well over 500! A national survey in 1981 estimated the British population at about 2,100 males and a repeat in 1992 came to 3,400. Scotland did little better than marking time but in Wales the count increased by 230%! Global warming may also be important for a species with such a late arrival date and restricted breeding season in which, potentially, to fit two broods. A real recovery seems to be taking place.
Morris, A. et al. 1994 Bird Study: 41, 181-191.
UKBAP Forestry Commission RSPB.
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From The State of the Nations Birds
Copyright © 2000 by Chris Mead