White-throated Nightjars on migration in Cairns

To: <>, Mike Carter <>, birding-aus threads <>
Subject: White-throated Nightjars on migration in Cairns
From: martin cachard <>
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2011 20:03:18 +1100
G'day David, Mike & everyone else Thanks for your comments on this. I think 
that it is important to note that this observation was made in the twilight of 
dusk (6:30pm), so it would I think be considered a normal time for this species 
to be up & about foraging. It would also be more correct to consider this as 
crepuscular activity, rather than diural versus nocturnal. Was the direct 
flight pattern significant in determinig that the birds were actually 
migrating? I have only seen this species on migration once before & this was a 
southward movement along the shores of Little Ramsay Bay on Hinchinbrook Is, 
when there were some 10 birds or so, at a similar height to yesterday's. 
However the birds on this occasion were more or less in single file.Last night 
I thought the first 3 birds grouped together in a triangular line was very odd. 
I have been outside tonight to check for other birds coming through, but none 
were seen here. Do we agree that this sighting was of birds on a mig
 ration flight? I just don't know, but they weren't in the normal foraging 
flight that I am much more used to seeing around here in late October with 
WTNJ's. My experience with migrating nightjars is very limited, so I am 
interested in what others think about this. David, I concur with you about WTNJ 
on the coastal lowlands being strictly passage migrants only. The only birds I 
have seen on the lowlands have been from mid-Sept to late October & in 
March-April. I see birds outside these times only at various places on the 
local tablelands (ie Julatten, Davies Ck etc). Cheers for now Martin 
CachardCairns0428 782 808 
Date: Sat, 22 Oct 2011 01:20:56 -0700
Subject: White-throated Nightjars on migration in Cairns
To: ; ; 

Hi  Martin and Mike,
Observations of diurnal migration in WTNJ do not necessarily preclude nocturnal 
migration as well. When I was in Townsville migrating nightjars would sometimes 
turn up in unusual or unexpected day roosts. The huge railway workshop sheds at 
Stuart was one "regular" location. I flushed 1 from my chicken coup in a 
suburban backyard one morning.  Whilst I can't prove it, it seemed like they 
were arriving at these locations during the night to roost by day, before 
moving on. It appears that they are only passage migrants around Townsville 
(and I think the entire NQ coastal lowlands), though I never recorded them in 
migration flight, day or night. WTNJ should be back in SE Aust  in numbers by 

David James, 


From: Mike Carter <>
To: martin cachard <>; birding-aus threads 
Sent: Saturday, 22 October 2011 4:23 PM
Subject: White-throated Nightjars on migration in Cairns

Very interesting as this sighting would possibly be nocturnal migration. In
Carter, M., & Bright, B. (2011), 'White-throated Nightjar: Diurnal Over-sea 
Migration in
 a Nocturnal Bird' Australian Field Ornithology, 28; 32-37, published in March 
this year we presented evidence for diurnal migration in this species.
I suppose your birds could have just been arriving at their destination or 
continuing their journey.

Mike Carter
30 Canadian Bay Road
Mount Eliza  VIC 3930
Tel  (03) 9787 7136

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