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Nightjar looking for love in Norfolk is named after Love Island star

PUBLISHED: 11:08 10 August 2017 | UPDATED: 11:08 10 August 2017

Nightjar being measured, as scientists following the antics of the lovelorn bird which unexpectedly travelled more than 600 miles across the UK in a quest to find a mate have renamed the bird Marcel, after the Love Island contestant. Photo Dr Kathryn Arnold/University of York.

Nightjar being measured, as scientists following the antics of the lovelorn bird which unexpectedly travelled more than 600 miles across the UK in a quest to find a mate have renamed the bird Marcel, after the Love Island contestant. Photo Dr Kathryn Arnold/University of York.

A male nightjar has attracted national attention with its quest for a mate leading it to travel 600 miles in four days, including a flying visit through Norfolk.

The nightjar was named after Love Island star Marcel Somerville. Photo  Joel Anderson/ITV The nightjar was named after Love Island star Marcel Somerville. Photo Joel Anderson/ITV

Nightjars used to be known as Goatsuckers because people believed they stole milk from goats, yet, they managed to garner another name in Norfolk, being widely known as the Dorhawk after their habit of feeding on Dorbeetles.

This nightjar, previously known as ‘Bird16840’, was given the slightly more catchy name of Marcel by University of York researchers, after one of the contestants on Love Island. Sadly, unlike the real Marcel, this bird did not find his Gabby and was unsuccessful in its nightly romantic pursuits.

Rather than being filmed and having its antics broadcast to the nation, Marcel’s travels were tracked by an ecology team at the University of York, with Dr Kathryn Arnold, Senior Lecturer in Ecology, revealing the route that Marcel took through Norfolk.

“The nocturnal bird entered the county via Diss and then flew to Norwich in 45 minutes, it seems Marcel was unaware that taking the train would have saved him about 20 minutes of flapping,” she said.

The GPS tracking of a lovelorn nightjar which unexpectedly travelled more than 600 miles across the UK in a quest to find a mate, which scientists renamed the bird Marcel, after the Love Island contestant. Photo Google Earth/University of York. The GPS tracking of a lovelorn nightjar which unexpectedly travelled more than 600 miles across the UK in a quest to find a mate, which scientists renamed the bird Marcel, after the Love Island contestant. Photo Google Earth/University of York.

“It spent a short spell lapping up the sights of the city centre, and then decided to head to more rural climes, flying over Horsford, then Cawston, eventually deciding to sleep during the day in a small woodland at Melton Constable.

“Marcel commenced his voyage the next night from there, flying close to Wells-next-the-Sea, over Burnham Market, south to the west of Fakenham, over Raynham Park, then out of the county between Southery and Feltwell, into Cambridgeshire.”

It remains to be seen what the reason was for Marcel’s failure to find a mate in Norfolk. Perhaps he could have sought advice from Norwich Cathedral’s resident Peregrine Falcons who have successfully brought up offspring in this fine city.

Marcel will soon be on his way to Africa once the breeding season ends, and will hopefully be more fortunate in his quest for love on this island when he returns next year.

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