The European nightjar is a summer visitor to the UK. The species is largely nocturnal, commencing its feeding and courting activities at dusk and continuing until early dawn. By day the bird roosts in thick cover where its cryptic camouflage makes it very difficult to see. Nightjars are most easy to locate by visiting suitable habitat at dusk and listening for the males churring song delivered from some prominent perch or by listening for its distinctive flight note.
When seen, the nightjar has a very unusual flight comprising a deep flapping action followed by periods of gliding. Its overall shape closely resembles a hawk or a cuckoo, but the bright white spots on the outer tail feathers of the male bird are distinctive and quite noticeable even in very poor light.