“Unknown artist?” James scrolls down the list on his iPod looking for the right track.
The tall trees outside the car are backlit by the dregs of light from the sunken sun. The road is quiet. An hour earlier we’d bumped down this rough track signposted “no access to unauthorized vehicles” and pulled up on the verge by the clearing in the trees. We’ve sat here for an hour with the cool evening air drifting in through the wound down windows. I don’t know if either of us is holding out much hope. James heard nightjars here before once – several years ago. I have never heard one before.
James locates the track “Eurasian nightjar” on his iPod and checks the volume. Then he stops, we listen.
And we hear it: eerie and unearthly. The weirdest, most synthetic sound nature provides is the vibrating churr of the Eurasian nightjar.
James looks at me. “I didn’t press play.”
We jump out of the car to see two nightjars shoot out the tree right next to us. They fly over the clearing and disappearing into the shadowy trees beyond.
We are left in the dark, grinning and jumping around like children in a playground. James climbs back into the car to press play on the iPod track. Nightjars are territorial, he explains, so the sound of one is likely to attract the attentions of another. We stand in the dark with the noise emitting from the car stereo. As the track slips onto the noisy opening bars of Peter Gabriel one nightjar comes back and swoops low directly over my head before disappearing again into the dark.