Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Nigh-time birding

As mentioned before, I've started accompanying Grant on night-time trips into the mine. I always have my camera ready to photograph little animals and of course, birds visible at night. Although we've seen (and I've posted about) Thick-knees roosting during the day and I also posted a nocturnal sighting of one on Monday, we've never seen Night-jars in daylight. Nightjars are nocturnal feeders and roost on the ground or along branches during the day. Identification is very tricky, based on extent of white or cream in primaries or tail.

Nevertheless, orginally Grant and I spotted our first nightjar in the headlights of the car. I jumped out and through a series of trials, mishaps I managed a few photos. But when I downloaded them, not one was suitable for anything, let alone identification.

Later a friend whose family have a hunting concession in Tanzania, lent us a torch. According to him, this very powerful light is one of the few types which should be used for game night drives. Apparently the ones that are used by the miners here (for work purposes only) are detrimental to the animal or bird's eyes

This weekend Grant tested his steadiness when holding the heavy torch as he picked out a nightjar roosting on the ground in front of the car. I twiddled each camera function (mainly manual and custom) until I had the subject in focus. Even though our friend assured us that the light doesn't harm the bird, we like to work as quickly as possible, turn off the beam and get back into the vehicle. It's only fair to leave a wild animal in peace as soon as possible after we've had the pleasure of viewing it.
 A nightjar in the road on the mine. Notice how difficult it is to spot. 

 Above I managed to get a bit closer to the nightjar

I'm linking this post to Wild Bird Wednesday.  

I hope you're all having a great week.


  1. Oh, what wonderful captures, Jo! He does blend in, doesn't he!!! Amazing that you saw him at all!! Thanks for sharing! Hope your week is going well!!

  2. Wow, you went to a lot of work to get photos of this little cutie, Jo. I've never heard of nightjars, and now I've (almost) seen one.
    Luv, K

  3. Nice night shots. I saw nightjars on a night drive a Kruger the first trip. I wouldn't even know where to start with the camera settings.

  4. oh Wow, lucky you! I would love to see a Nightjar! Wonderful sighting and photos too.


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