02 June 2010

A BTO night out with Ray Mears

For staff at the BTO, living and working in Thetford can have its perks. Thetford Forest has quite a few special species just 10 minutes down the road from the BTO headquarters. Crossbill, Firecrest, Hobby, Woodlark, Tree Pipit and Nightjar to name a few.

This can make for great filming opportunities for wildlife documentaries and every now and then staff here are asked to join a film crew to help film some of these birds. Last weekend presented one of these occasions.

The plan was to take the world renowned survival expert, Ray Mears, out into the forest (see photograph below, Ray is 6th from the right) to film and ring Nightjars that have recently arrived back from Africa. Ray, who is currently filming a series for ITV, was hoping to capture a Nightjar and help fit a radio tag onto the bird as part of a study into this species. Katrina Evans is doing a Phd with the University of East Anglia with the aim of tracking Nightjar movements during their stay here in the forest. The data collected is very valuable and information on feeding strategies, nesting progress and other movements will be analysed and used to inform conservation action for Nightjars in the future.

Due to the weather conditions, clear sky, bright moon and freezing temperatures, the Nightjars were more interested in feeding and we were unable to catch any. We did however get great views and footage of a roosting bird on a tree stump when we arrived, and a churring male Nightjar at dusk.

It just goes to show, when dealing with wildlife, nothing can be guaranteed.

Thanks go to John Bowers for the Nightjar photo and the ringing team for a cold but memorable evening.

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