Birding Blog B March 2017

The highlight of this weekend was the return of the Fiery-necked Nightjar. It’s long been on the Cavern list without a single appearance in at least 15 years. Arguably it has the finest call of any bird in the world, a clear rippled whistle that carries for miles. In mid evening it struck up, for at least 10 minutes, in the tall trees just beside the unloading area. Where has it been all this time? Nobody knows. The species has poorly defined migrations, and is, in any event, rare at this altitude.

The breeding season may nearly be over, but a Southern Masked Weaver was feeding a full-sized, but still juvenile Diderick Cuckoo. Curiously, juveniles have a red bill; nearly all bird species develop coloured bills (if they do so at all) as adults. Anne Musk took this wonderful photo.

A White-rumped Swift blundered indoors by mistake. If ever one needs to catch a swift without injury throw a small towel at it as it passes. This was a great opportunity to see one in the hand. The wings are proportionately the longest of any bird, the legs perhaps the shortest. This combination means that swifts cannot take off from level ground, and indeed they never land voluntarily. All food and nesting materials must be collected in mid-air.

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