Eye on Nature: Your Notes and Queries for Ethna Viney

Nightjars, 4am birdsong, Dublin Airport hares, and River Liffey egrets

On December 1st at 7.40pm I heard a clatter against the large picture window of my sitting room and saw a bird trying to get through the glass. I focused a lamp on it and was astonished to identify it as a nightjar. Nightjars were ubiquitous on my coffee farm in Zimbabwe many years ago: they frequently flew into the headlamps, sometimes fatally. I then saw a second nightjar sitting quietly on the window box, watching her mate desperately trying to get through the glass. After some time the male (white wing tips) gave up and joined her in the box. They stayed there for almost an hour.
Sandy Stokes
Clonmel, Co Tipperary

Birdwatch Ireland has the nightjar as a rare and secretive summer visitor to uplands in southern Ireland.

For a few weeks I'm being awakened by birdsong around 4am, like the springtime dawn chorus. It's quite beautiful and sounds like our resident blackbirds. Has the mild November fooled them?
Dara Hogan
Rathfarnham, Dublin

Eyes on nature: a nightjar like the one that visited Sandy Stokes. Photograph: Saverio Gatto/Getty
Eyes on nature: a little egret like the ones that Joseph Fagan saw in Chapelizod in Dublin. Photograph: Andrew Howe/iStock/Getty

Could be, encouraged by the street lights.


Arriving back from a trip recently, we were in the red long-term car park at Dublin Airport when two hares ran across a grass roundabout.
Pamela Hanrahan
Whitechurch, Co Cork

Dublin Airport has resident hares.

I saw a pair of little egrets on an island on the River Liffey opposite my sister's house in Chapelizod. Wonderful.
Joseph Fagan
Castleknock, Dublin

Since they started breeding here, in 1997, little egrets have colonised the whole country south of a line from Dundalk to Galway, and many areas north of that line.

Ethna Viney welcomes observations and photographs at Thallabawn, Louisburgh, Co Mayo, F28 F978, or by email at viney@anu.ie