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Night Pint

  • Wed 20th Mar, 2019

The air was thick and sultry, the aftermath of the intense heat of the day. It must have been one of the hottest of last summer, and people had melted before my feet.

European Turtle Dove © Richard BainesEuropean Turtle Dove © Richard Baines

First stop; the pub. But not just any pub; a quirky drinking house with the added bonus of being lulled by the sensual purring of the turtur from the beer garden. Or should I say, a magical evening spent admiring the dainty and rare Turtle Dove, with the added bonus of being next to a pub. The birds showed beautifully, the blue-grey tinged with a shy blush, suiting their coy nature, and as dusk fell the last rays illuminated their delicate patterned feathers as they spread their tails and trilled.

But the evening's excitement wasn't over. Finishing our drinks we headed into the forest in search of another elusive creature, the enigmatic Nightjar.

European Nightjar © Dan LombardEuropean Nightjar © Dan Lombard

Relentlessly scanning for the falcon-like silhouette as we stalked beneath the dark trees, I wondered if we'd be disappointed, but then we heard it; the unmistakable churring, gurgling song, accompanied by the distinctive wing clap of the males claiming their territory.

European Nightjar © Richard BainesEuropean Nightjar © Richard Baines

And suddenly there he was, circling around and around our heads in an unbelievable display, silently hunting through the cloud of midges that assailed us. I couldn't say how long we watched in awe, this moth-like bird, it's cryptic gold-flecked plumage an invisible cloak amongst the trees, treating us to this rare show.

To be so close, for so long, it was an incredible experience and both birds a first for me.

It truly was an unforgettable evening.

You can join a Nightjar Safari this summer. YCN are running special evenings to see these amazing birds and we may even find Turtle Doves nearby again... For more info Click Here

Susie O'Neill

Susie works for the RSPB based at the Bempton Cliffs Reserve. She is also a local author. We are very pleased at YCN to welcome her on to our writing team, look out for more encounters on our news section soon! You can read her YCN profile Click Here.