Wednesday - King`s Wood, Challock - 2000hrs - 2230hrs - Yesterday evening CP and I deserted the Marsh for the trees and a spot of long overdue Nightjar hunting. We found a large clear-felled area of coppiced Sweet Chestnuts with a few standard trees overlooking a valley and settled down to wait- and-see. With the setting sun at our backs we had panoramic views of the distant canopy. A few Swifts and gulls drifted over followed by a smart Hobby and a close Buzzard, plus Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
The silence was then shattered as we were `discovered` by a dog practicing its rescue abilities. Having `found us`, with a couple of barks it then bounded off to its handlers and carried out the procedure three more times. Eventually the handlers came into the clearing and explained that the dog was being trained to locate humans by smell, for a canine charity that works with the police, mostly on search and rescue locating dementia patients; not that we`d got the dreaded disease, but we certainly must`ve ponged a bit for the dog to find us so quickly! It`s amazing what odd encounters I`ve had over the years whilst out searching for Nightjars, but that`s another story...
Anyhow, once that was over peace and quiet resumed and we were soon watching a pair of Tree Pipits singing and displaying close by, a real treat as they are such scarce birds nowadays. As the sun dipped a chorus of Song Thrushes wafted on the zephyr along with half-hearted laments from Chiffchaff, Robin, Bullfinch and Blackbird.
Twilight slowly descended, out came the first bats and moths followed by distant hunger calls from Tawny Owlets and a `roding` Woodcock over the canopy. And then at 2140hrs a male Nightjar broke its slumbers and wing-clapped across the glade, flashing white wing patches in defence of its territory. It soon settled down and for the next three quarters of an hour moved between song posts giving superb flight views as well as perching along dead branches with a clear-sky silhouette showing off its `churring` technique. Two more Nightjars sang nearby which probably accounted for the intensity of `our` singing bird.
A successful foray into the woods then, and as we returned to the car we could still hear distant Nightjars `churring` into the blackness.