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Quest at four sites for an elusive visitor.

Byline: By Steve Dube Western Mail

Staff at Brecknock Wildlife Trust are already making plans for warm summer evenings and a search for the elusive nightjar.

The trust is leading a study into the species with the help of the Forestry Commission and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.

Research into the habits of these curious nocturnal birds will be carried out at four sites - Cretan/Caeo Forests, Glasfyndd Forest, Brechfa Forest, and Mynydd Ddu.

Nightjars are internationally-protected because their numbers are declining across Europe and the study is a Biodiversity Action Plan Species for the Brecon Beacons National Park and for the county of Powys as a whole.

The nightjar is a summer migrant which breeds on heathland, in forestry clearings, and in young areas of plantation. It feeds on night- flying moths and insects.

There has been a dramatic decline in heathland in Brecknock due to land improvement schemes and intensive agriculture and the birds have to depend on forestry clearfells created during commercial felling operations for their nesting sites.

There is a drive within commercial forestry towards natural regeneration and continuous cover forestry, so the lack of clearfell areas in the future could drive the small remaining population of nightjars from their current breeding sites and lead to their extinction in some areas.

The project will study productivity and nesting success and look at the foraging habits of the species to see what ancillary habitats are used for foraging.

More than 40% of the funding - almost pounds 21,000 - has come from the Countryside Council for Wales Species Challenge Fund.

Conservationists hope to enlist the help of volunteers. Training will be provided, and anyone who would like to help with the project can contact Brecknock Wildlife Trust through Charles Morgan on 01874 625708 or call at the office, Lion House in Brecon.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 30, 2004
Words:305
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