Silchester Wildlife Diary: May Highlights

I am looking forward to May as this month sees the return of our Summer migrants to the village. The start of the month should see the return the amazing aerobatic displays provided by the House Martins, the Swifts and the Swallows.

These birds nest in barns and houses in and around Silchester and you can attract them to your house by putting up a nest box on your house. They can be seen circling around at break neck speed on summer evenings.

Later in the month should also see the return of the Nightjars. Here’s a picture of one (not taken by me).

These are one of the three species for which Silchester Common is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest or SSSI (the other two species are the Dartford Warbler and the Wood Lark). The Nightjars are one of the latest Summer migrants to arrive back in the UK and one of the earliest to leave (they will probably be gone by the end of August). They make their nests at ground level out on the Common and hunt for their food during the dusk. They have huge eyes which are adapted to low light and they make one of the strangest noises of any bird during their mating season. The noise is described as a “churr” and can be heard on most evenings during the Summer out on the Common. If you want to get a feel for how they sound then click on this link:

https://soundcloud.com/wildlife-sound-recording/nightjar

I hope you get as much pleasure from seeing and hearing all these birds as I do.