Monday 21 May 2012


Ladywalk signage..... with Peacock butterfly

After suffering the unbearable pain of toothache and popping more pain killers than Michael Jackson once did when he stubbed his toe, I lay there in bed this afternoon feeling very sorry for myself indeed. My misery was even more deep as I had missed two excellent local birds over the weekend. Firstly a Sanderling dropped in at Alvecote Pools on Saturday, a much needed 'patch tick' and secondly a male Bluethroat sang its heart out at Doxey Marsh in Staffordshire all day yesterday. This would have been a blinding additional to my regional species tally.  Needless to say, both birds decided to depart before I made it back from Norfolk.

Then the phone rang. It was a text message from the self-proclaimed 'Voice of the Tame Valley', Tom Perrins. A European Nightjar had been found just down the road at Ladywalk Nature Reserve. Despite hearing and seeing loads of these birds over the years in the neighbouring County of Staffordshire, this was a species that was mega rare in Shakespeare's County of Warwickshire.

European Nightjar - Ladywalk WMBC Reserve, Warwickshire.
Photo by Adam Archer


Within a few minutes we were on site and watching the bird from the hide as it roosted in a silver birch tree on the opposite side of Rudd Pool. This was not the usual favoured heathland habitat of this species, however I have seen European Nightjar in stranger locations. Around this time last year I witnessed the unbelievable spectacle of a bird singing from lamp posts on a busy retail park just outside Barnsley in South Yorkshire. At one stage I even had to flush the bird as it rested in the middle of the road completely unaware of a fast approaching bus!

European Nightjar - Ladywalk WMBC Reserve, Warwickshire.
Photo by Dave Hutton

I then headed around to a different viewing position where the bird showed closer but a little obscured. Whilst we stood admiring the recent arrival from sub-Saharan Africa it gave us a short rendition of its distinctive churring song. It was amazing to witness the throat gently vibrating away as it emitted one of the strangest sounds the natural world has to offer. To make the whole experience even better I did not feel the pain of my troublesome tooth once..... nature is the greatest cure!  

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