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Welcome to my blog. If you live in Surrey and birding is your obsession (to get out of bed at some ridiculously early time of the morning, no matter what the weather, to go and look at birds isn't normal behaviour, believe me) and you're still a bit of a novice (like me) then, hopefully, this blog is for you.



Thursday, 3 June 2010

IN THE NIGHT GARDEN

I took myself off to Chobham Common for a spot of night birding on Wednesday evening, and a fantastic evening it turned out to be - one of the most memorable yet. The Common is a strange place at night - not a sound but for one particular bird, one I had yet to see. After getting up close as the light faded, I got my first glimpse of an enigmatic Nightjar (136).



The Nightjar's call is unmistakable - a constant churring sound that can go on for minutes at a time. The other sound you might hear is a sudden flapping sound as it takes off from a branch of a tree - I found out later that night from watching Springwatch that the bird occasionally claps its wings when attracting a mate - but once it is in flight it is silent as it glides, swoops and circles in the half light.

video

The scene is quite eerie, but utterly captivating. I had one take off nearby and circle round me, swooping really close before settling again on a branch. I could have stayed for hours watching and listening to this spectacle but after an hour I made my way back to the car. On the way, there was a blur and a rushing sound as a Woodcock (137) flew swiftly across my path. In a flash it was gone.

A short while later as I was driving home I had to stop suddenly. There was a bird in the road right in front of me and it wasn't in a hurry to move. A Tawny Owl (138) turned to face the headlights as it feasted on some road-kill before reluctantly flying into the bushes by the side of the road. An excellent, if lucky, spot to complete a brilliant evening.

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