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Nightjar to breed again on Bedfordshire heathland?
Nightjar in flight
Bringing the Nightjar back is Graham's dream

The RSPB is working to get a rare species of bird, the Nightjar, to breed again at it's reserve in Sandy.

The nocturnal birds were spotted at The Lodge several years ago but left during the site's restoration and only one has been spotted there since.

It is hoped that the development of over 100 hectares of heathland will lure the Nightjar back to stay.

Bringing the birds iconic call, silent flight and mythical ability to steal milk from goats back to Bedfordshire.

Graham's leaving wish

Graham Wilton-Jones has dedicated the past decade working for the RSPB as site warden at The Lodge.

A late career change after he became disillusioned with teaching.

"This is where I'll finish with the RSPB. I'm actually retiring this year," Graham said.

His gift to fellow bird lovers is to try and get the Nightjar back and breeding on the nature reserve grounds.

"They've been here in the past. The last ones were breeding several years back.

"After the restoration one Nightjar appeared, very briefly, fast asleep on a log next to the path.

"Lots of people enjoyed seeing that but what we shall enjoy is hearing Nightjars come back.

"They have an extraordinary sound which they utter in the night," Graham said.

Bedfordshire's largest heath

Graham started work at The Lodge alone.

Now he has help from hundreds of employees and volunteers as they try to create the largest area of heathland in Bedfordshire.

"The original heathland has probably been here for the last 5000 years.

"It would have looked pretty much like this except they'd be people coming up here actually using it.

Graham Wilton-Jones
Graham has been at The Lodge for a decade

"We're trying to create 80 hectares of new heath right here on this site so you can see how significant our work is," said Graham.

Heathlands, moorlands and open woodland with clearings are where Nightjars can normally be found in other areas of the country.

Graham said: "We'll really have achieved our aims if we get the enigmatic Nightjar back."

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