Thursday, 6 May 2010

Welcome to the Nightjar

It was 5 years ago that our current guest stayed with us when we first heard the Nightjar and we haven't heard it since. However, tonight it arrived just after our guest did. How strange!
The weather is playing tricks on everyone as it alternates between Winter and Springtime.

The crickets have been singing on tonight's warm, balmy, still evening following the several days of bitter wind and temperatures requiring the donning of winter attire.

[About a week ago, it was almost Summer when 'Mary Manique', who is French but speaks excellent English having lived there for some time, laughed at my arrival at 'le cours de poterie' because she and I were wearing sandals without socks, whilst the French ladies were wearing shoes with socks! Never cast a clout until the May is out! Wintry weather has returned and although Hawthorn blossom (May blossom) is in flower, the month of May is of course unfinished. I deviate!]

When we first heard the weird gobbling sound of something over at the barn and saw it fly past our house, then, not knowing its name, we described the sound as a jarring, jerking, spooky sound ... and of course this description led us to identify the bird. It was August into September then and now being early May it is the time when the European Nightjar migrates from Africa. Wikipedia provides the photo above and tells me that the Nightjar has also been called "Flying toad." "Nighthawk" and "Fern-owl" from its habits as well as "Dorhawk" and "Moth-owl" from its food. Its peculiar nocturnal sound and silent ghostly flight have earned it the names of "Lich (corpse) Fowl", "Puckeridge"and "Goatsucker". I'm not sure which moth it was, but perhaps a kind of Hawk, Gipsy or Tiger Moth was fluttering by the verandah window trying to reach the light... it was possibly in danger of being eaten by the Nightjar! There are some heathery patches of woodland but quite far from here so perhaps they are nesting in the coppiced woodland areas.

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