Sunday, 6 June 2010

Things That Go Churrrr in the Night

After  a day with cold or hay fever I got itchy feet early evening and decided to have a crack at finding my own Nightjar. I had noticed a big area of newish plantation a few weeks ago on one trip into the south west of Northumberland that looked suitable and was in an area that has had Nightjar breeding historically but away from the well watched sites down there.

Arriving about nine to try and sort out a decent vantage it was cloudy with a light breeze. I found a small sparsely wooded hill between an area of growth about 8-10 years old and a clear fell area maybe 2-3 years old from where I could view both. I settled down to wait for dusk, only moving my left arm occasionally to fend off the incoming Midge that sounded like minature kamikaze fighter planes as they dived at my forehead. Suddenly a movement low down a few feet back along the path in my peripheral vision and two black and white heads pushed through the overhanging heather about six feet away; two young Badger eyed me cautiously before retreating and giving me a wider berth.

As dusk approached I moved away back to the clearfell area, a single repeated hoarse bark resounded through the trees. Not owls, not Fox, I was puzzled for a few minutes till a flash of white revealed a couple of male Roe Deer 40m away tussling with each other before trotting off.

A Woodcock lazily roded overhead and the first of several male Tawny Owl advertised their territory. Driving back down the single track lane later, two Tawny Owl rose from the low roadside vegetation perhaps 2m from the road edge highlighting their vulnerability to fast moving vehicles.

With darkness fast approaching I took my light and headed along the eastern edge of the site on a public footpath for about 500m. Briefly in the distance for perhaps 10-15 seconds I caught my target for the night churring in the distance. Several bats hawked low over my head but despite waiting until near darkness I heard or saw no further signs of Nightjar. I arrived home a little after midnight, slightly deflated as I'd hoped at least to get a brief glimpse. At least I know that the site does have Nightjar, another night perhaps.

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