Chobham Common 16 June 2022

Six members and three visitors assembled at the Jubilee Mount car park in an evening search for nightjars. The night was sultry and the air full of the perfume of cooling vegetation. A short way along the roadside path was a colony of silver-studded blue butterflies with the odd common blue among them, mainly perched offering excellent photo opportunities. During the descent to the heath a roebuck galloped beside the path and a female stonechat perched on the gorse. An occasional chiffchaff sang but the common was generally quiet. The concentration was accordingly more on non-avian species, at least until dusk. First came a pair of beautiful early marsh orchids and then in small ponds a dozen or so newts identified as palmate by the webbing on their feet. In mid-heath a couple of Dartford warblers called distantly and a peregrine streaked overhead. At the main pond the sparse bird list was increased by singles of mallard, moorhen, whitethroat and song thrush. By the crossroads on the main track the action finally began. First came churring from several directions; then two nightjars were seen to the south, calling and wing clapping as they flew. Two more circled the group near the crossroads giving excellent views. More were heard churring on the return path and when approached took to the air providing further entertainment. Despite a list of only sixteen birds identified the evening proved to be an outstanding nightjar experience.

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