Sunday, 10 July 2011

The Sound Of A Norfolk Nightjar Churring At 10pm On Saturday Night

Sunset at Salthouse Heath in North Norfolk - a banker Nightjar site in July - was at 9.10pm and looked fabulous. But that still meant a 50-minute wait until that unmistakeable churring piped up from nowhere. It was there and gone within five minutes.

They're very difficult to see because they don't wake up until it goes dark.  But just listen to that unnatural, natural sound.

The RSPB estimate there are 3,400 males in the whole of Britain during the summer, most of them in the east and south east of England. It's very rare to hear more than two in a territory and they all winter in  sub-Saharan Africa.

Joseph and I passed the waiting time with an old-time Norfolk countryman and his wife. He'd spent his life digging lugworms out of Stiffkey marsh in all weathers for sea-fishing, shooting and hunting. He was now using a walking stick and struggling with his spinal discs. He wandered off just before the Nightjar started calling.

We made it back to the cottage in time for the end of Miss Marple.

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