A flying start on the nightjar field season may help us learn how much nightjars fly (1:2)

You know the frustrating feeling when you have a dense swarm of gnats around your head, biting wherever they find an opening when you lower your guard for just a moment. That is in fact a positive feeling if you are about to catch some nightjars because a lot of gnats usually means that the nightjars will be active and hence a lot easier to catch. So, it was with rather high hopes we set out into the warm early summer night for our first trapping effort for the season at my field site. 

Urban Rundström with whom I trap nightjars has been spending (almost) every available summer night catching and ringing nightjars in eastern Småland since 2010 and just the other day he manage to ring nightjar number 600 in his project, which is pretty amazing when comparing to the approximately 1200 nightjars ringed in Sweden during the first century of bird ringing! For the tracking project we have focused on an about 50 km2 square of forest squeezed in between relatively large areas of agricultural land, the river Emån and the Baltic Sea. The area is rich in nightjars and it is heavily managed which enable relatively easy access to most territory-holding birds with a regular car. 

The night turned out to very successful, just as the gnats had indicated, and in the first morning light we could note that our efforts had resulted in 11 trapped birds! One of those was an old acquaintance that we met for the first time back in 2013. Then he was a young male born the year before. We have caught him every year since, more or less in the same spot. This year he had carried a miniature data logger that regularly is sampling and logging his flight activity throughout the annual cycle. With his contribution we hope to learn more about the daily and annually flight activity in this cryptic long-distant avian migrant.

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