I was feeling more restless than usual on Thursday evening when a clip on Springwatch showing Simon King handling a Nightjar sprung me into action. I have never seen or heard Nightjar and to be honest have no idea where to even start looking for any in my locality. I looked them up in the bird book and one of the suggested habitats was woodland with large open areas. The first place that sprung to mind was Parc-Le-Breos on Gower, and twenty minutes later I was there.
It was starting to go dark already when we arrived as a family of Song Thrushes got some last minute feeding in near the car park. We walked along the track past the neolithic burial chamber and into the almost silent inner sanctum of the ancient woods. The air was so still that we were picking up on sounds from all around us. Blackbirds were calling from everywhere interspersed with the cooing of Wood Pigeons and an occasional addition from one of the local farms Peacocks. At one point we could hear something moving through the undergrowth beneath the trees but it was getting too dark to see anything. These woods are the only place I have ever seen a Badger so your mind does tend to race at what might be lurking within. In reality it was probably just a rabbit. Something must have spooked the local Rookery as they made an awful racket for a couple of minutes. Their volume is certainly magnified when there are very few other sounds around.
By now the sun had long since set and the darkness was closing in. We started to head back to the car when two Tawny Owls came over our heads and flew down the track and up into some trees. We could see one sat at the joint of two large branches, it watching us watching it. Fantastic. We stood around for a while longer and could hear at least another two Tawny Owls calling from around us. There was also another bird with a fairly distinctive call but I have no idea what it was and didn’t manage to record it for later research.
We glimpsed a Fox moving across the grass some distance away before something quite remarkable happened. We had been stood in the same spot for quite some while and in almost near silence when another Fox slinked out of the bushes right in front of us. It can’t have been more than five meters away and seemed completely oblivious to us. I then made the fatal mistake of pointing at it to make sure my other half had seen it. A rather stupid thing to do in hindsight as it was fairly obvious that she had and that small movement alerted the Fox and it was off. Never mind as it was a superb encounter and I have at least learned one lesson on how to improve my bush craft.