Call of the Nightjar
Along with the arrival of Swift comes another bird of myth and magic - the Nightjar. While the Swift is a bird of the summer skies the Nightjar haunts the wooded heaths.
Rarely seen unless you know where to look, it’s ventriloquial ‘churring‘ call and ‘boomerang’ display flights start up at that time of the evening, just before dusk - what we, from the West Country, call dimpsey.
folding paper a nightjar flies from my hands
On this still, windless night the forest is silent. The trees watch, like inscrutable sentries. Moths flutter past silently, gossamer scraps pale against the darkness. Bats swoop soundlessly, dusky shadows whose voices are beyond our hearing. It seems that the creatures that stalk the night woods are mostly unseen and unheard. But the forest isn’t quite silent. There is a whirring in the air, something that you wouldn’t really notice unless your attention is drawn to it. Something that sounds alien and a little eerie. It seems to be coming from the trees – all of the trees, as though the air itself is singing. Listen, and you’ll hear it too …
Source: The call of the Nightjar by Andrea Stephenson (Harvesting Hecate)
Thanks to Andrea Stephenson for allowing me to quote from her excellent blog. And to Martin Smith who has also written about the Nightjar in his wood (Hut Wood) and unwittingly sowed the seed of an idea, and to Bagpuss (Small Films 1974) for the magic.
The featured image is of a ‘Nightjar at Arne’ Dorset, England. From an original acrylic wildlife painting by Dorset UK artist Cliff Towler http://www.clifftowler.co.uk/