It was just before midday when rumours of a Nightjar at The Lodge began to filter out. It had to be worth an early lunch, so we hotfooted it up to the gatehouse and followed the directions down the new footpath.
A few early bird[er]s had already arrived. 'It's just behind the thistles,' said Dave. Scanning around, I couldn't even see the thistles... and then I realised they were the green plants just the other side of the fence!
This Nightjar was about three feet from the footpath. It was quite astounding. The bird was just dozing on top of a log; through binoculars I watched it panting with its tiny beak just ajar and throat fluttering. For most people it'll have been a once-in-a-lifetime encounter (unless you're Graham Catley, of course!). I won't be surprised if I never see one like that again.
Quite a crowd gathered; it was a shame that one person couldn't help but get try to get closer than everyone else, so some posts and stripy tape were put up. Another person - who must remain nameless - arrived at 1pm and was still there when we returned for another look after work!
The light was better for photography at 5.20pm, but the crowd bigger. The Nightjar hadn't moved an inch all afternoon. My phone rang; it was Young William Bowell wanting more details. It was unfortunate that I'd just told him 'it's right next to the path' when the bird fidgeted and flew off to sit high in a tree, like a broken branch.
The views were still good but it wasn't quite the same...
photos taken with Canon EOS 30D, EF 300mm f/4L IS USM