Noises in the night

Have you ever sat in the african bush at night and just listened?  At first you observe how quiet it is besides the crackle of your fire, and then, when you really begin to listen you hear the most amazing sounds.  Depending where you are, these sounds differ widely. The most renowned sounds are those of the lion, hyena and jackal.  Where we live we get the odd jackal sound – but not very often, very rarely, we can hear lions in the distance, and in the early hours of the morning we hear the hippos returning to the river.  When we first moved to Hoedspruit and were living in a caravan on the other side of town, we heard many lion and even once – the rough sawing noise of a leopard passing our tent.

One sound that has become my favorite night-time sound here is the call of the Fiery-necked Nightjar. A very special time in the bushveld occurs during the full moon phase. Sitting outside in the evenings, bathed in glorious moonlight, absorbing the wonders of the nature around you. It is at this time that the common and humble Fiery-necked Nightjar sings out its distinctive and characteristic call described by birders as “good Lord deliver us” The call is particularly audible through the full moon phase, and less so on darker nights.

Just listen to it……

Fiery-necked nightjar

Isn’t it a beautiful sound?

This little bird sleeps on the ground in the grass during the day and wakes up at night to sing for us.  When we first got to the reserve we found one sitting on two eggs – just a few meters from our tent.

Don’t you just love her whiskers?  As you can see – they are very well camouflaged.  The male and female share time sitting on the eggs but while we watched – we always only saw one bird so assumed that she was a single mum, although the male and female are very similar so we could have missed seeing them change shifts. We never saw two adult birds there at the same time.  About half way through the 18 day incubation one of the eggs disappeared.  It must have been eaten by something so we were very worried that we would never get to see a baby Fiery-necked Nightjar.

Then one day we were greeted with this sight.

Can you see the baby?  If not, it’s sitting just under the mothers chin.  They stayed like this for a week and then just disappeared.  I think this poor mother was really tired of us coming to peep at her nest.  I had to mark exactly where she was sitting because it was so easy to miss them due to their colouring. 

A really strange-looking bird with a most beautiful voice.

Thanks to W for the use of his photos.


5 thoughts on “Noises in the night

  1. I love seeing the little baby birds peeking out from Mother’s wings. I sneak down in the night a lot in the hopes that I will see one of my chicks doing just that with their mom. I’m not usually lucky. To see that with wild birds is just amazing!


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