Nightjar – 1894

Caprimulgus europaeus – A summer visitor; common.

The “mountain” country, especially where furze and bracken abound, is much affected by this singular looking bird, and in such places we have often flushed it in the day-time from its perch on an old furze stump, or from the ground where it has been sheltering beneath a furze bush. It is not uncommon in September in turnip fields, where we have met with it when after the partridges. On summer evenings we generally noticed one or two wheeling about our grounds.

To quote our friend, the Rev. C. M. Phelps, “all over Pembrokeshire, wherever there is waste or fern-covered land — whether it be on the boulder-strewn mountain-side of the north, or on the heath-clad rocks near St. David’s, and in the treeless wind-swept districts of Castle Martin and St. Bride’s, there you will be likely to hear of an evening the peculiar whirr of the Night-jar, and on the bare ground you may find its lovely marbled eggs. Near St. David’s there lies an old encampment, probably Danish, called Penllan. Two years in succession a nest was taken here. The eggs lay on the bare dry, rough ground, surrounded by withered furze and green bracken; but, oh! such beauties they were, like two large grapes, only marbled and mottled with stone colour and cream, and purplish brown and grey. They are the finest Night-jars’ eggs I have ever seen, and are now in Dr. Propert’s collection.”

One day when we were driving in a lane a Night-jar rose from the side of the hedge, and flying in front for a few yards settled lengthwise on a rail, and so closely did the colour of its plumage match the wood that we had difficulty in distinguishing the bird as we passed within a few feet of it. When there are young birds, the Night-jars tumble about in front of anyone approaching the spot, feigning to be crippled, and attempt to decoy the stranger away, as we have often witnessed.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Nightjar in Pembrokeshire