Thursday, June 4, 2009

The Lodge, Sandy

Some animals have a real 'wow' factor and the crepuscular nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) falls into that category. I remember standing on Wavendon Heath some years ago in the half-light of dusk, listening to the strange churring call and, later, watching the bird fluttering around me as it hunted for moths & beetles.

It is only rarely seen in Bedfordshire nowadays, and the bird above was photographed by Robin Edwards at The Lodge earlier today, where it remained immobile on the log awaiting its nighttime witching hour. You can just imagine the excitement that it's caused there where some 200 people saw it today. But not me, unfortunately, as I was too busy to get up there to see it, but Robin has kindly allowed me to share his photo here.

Such a strange bird has been the origin of various myths, the most famous described by Cocker & Mabey, in their Birds Britannica, where they write, 'The more ancient slur is still enshrined in the scientific name Caprimulgus, from the Latin capra 'she-goat' and mulgeo, 'I milk'....From classical times it was believed that the birds entered the goat stalls and sucked the nanny's udders, which could eventually cause them to wither and the animals themselves to go blind.'

So, if you see any blind goats around, now you'll know why!

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