Monday, June 16, 2014

Nightjar Night

Last Night I completed my Nubian Nightjar monitoring efforts for this year. The moon was almost full and the night was warm - perfect conditions for this activity.
I met up with Barak who stayed with me all night (thanks B!) and we drove down in the late afternoon. En route we had a quick look to check whether the regular breeding pair of Sooty Falcons had returned from their winter travels - and indeed there they were, possibly checking out nest sites. Great views but terrible photo conditions:

Wildlife Photography at its best - male Sooty Falcon

Then we went down to Sdom Saltmarsh where we worked for the whole night. For shorter periods of the night we were joined by Ayla and a few other birders - thanks to everyone. Bring more food next time will you? 
We really struck gold with the nightjars - the males were very vocal and we were very efficient. By the time we left after 03:30, we encountered more than 40 singing males! And quite a few others in areas I had already checked earlier this season. The totals for this year will be over 60 singing males. Due to access difficulties (mine fields) my ability to record real breeding success is limited, so I use singing males as an index for population size. 

Another example of stunning wildlife photography - Nubian Nightjar take-off:

Other night birds we had were some Night Herons, Stone Curlews and one Barn Owl. There was some other wildlife as well. We had a few foxes, hares, Wild Boar and this very tame Fat Sand Rat (Psammomys obesus):

Towards the end of the night we had a pretty scary encounter. The night was very warm so we decided to go in for a quick dip at a small 'secret' oasis. After cooling down a bit, we walked out through the bushes towards the car. I suddenly heard a characteristic 'hsssssssssssssssssss' just by my bare feet - a large and nervous Painted Saw-scaled Viper (Echis coloratus) luckily jumped back from where it was sat about 40 cm from my feet, rather than striking. It retreated into the bushes while continuously hissing - scary shit. Certainly got the adrenalin pumping hard for a couple of hours.

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