OK, maybe spectacular’s the wrong word, but I had a good trip up to Wharncliffe Heath with my mate Andy the other night on my annual hunt for nightjars. It was a lovely evening weather-wise, but foolishly we picked the Longest Day, meaning the timescale between nightjars showing and the last bus from Deepcar to Hillsborough was worryingly narrow!
The usual support act of roding woodcocks and hooting tawny owls was present and correct, but we didn’t get as much as a chur from the nightjars until around 10.45. After a few flight calls one finally piped up with its churring somewhere deep in the heathland, and just before we had to peg it for the bus a half-arsed handclap from me lured one briefly into view, silhouetted as it alighted on a tree branch before zooming off back into the gloom.
Not the best sighting I’ve ever had, but it always feels a privilege to be in the presence of these eerie birds as they lurk in the shadows. One the way back we had views of probable Daubenton’s bat and noctules, and the usual newts as we poked our torches into the pools.