This afternoon, a typical cloudy and cold November afternoon, I sat in the conservatory and aided by an Alison Krauss CD and a couple of glasses of a particularly good Pinot Noir, I sat staring across the Thames estuary to the Essex shore. As you do at such times, I found myself reflecting on the past summer and a particularly good weekend in July.
Sunday 14th July was a very warm and sunny day and I was at my partner's in Surrey. We had planned to go out but the afternoon coincided with the Cricket World Cup Final and the Wimbledon Men's Final. I spent the afternoon enthralled by the cricket, listening to it through headphones attached to my Laptop, while we both watched the tennis at the same time on the TV. Both finals ended in the way we wanted them too and after some dinner it still remained a very warm and humid evening, so how not to waste it.
At 9pm with the light barely beginning to fade, we set off for some woods nearby where Nightjar annually breed. I had never seen Nightjars,coming from a marshland habitat and so the prospect was quite exciting. We made our way through a large wood and came out above a large, shallow valley full of trees, scrub and bracken where the Nightjars were regularly seen, close to and after dark, they being a nocturnal bird. We sat on a bench, surrounded by trees and looked down over the habitat below us as dusk began to quickly settle in. As it became gloomier and more humid, the only thing we saw for some time were bats, no doubt feeding on the millions of mosquitoes that were swarming round us. Then, just as it was getting almost to gloomy to see anything, a loud churring begun below us, the sound of a male Nightjar calling, quickly echoed by another some way away - so exciting! Then a dark shape against the fast receding sky flew past us, my first ever Nightjar - wow! After that, it was too dark to see anymore, but we listened to them for a while before it was time to make our way back through a very dark wood.
But there, the excitement didn't end, small glows of luminous light began to show in the undergrowth, my first Glow worms for fifty odd years, it was almost magical.
We emerged from the wood as the first stars were beginning to light the sky and made our way home, where we ended a humid evening by sitting in a dark garden, drinking white wind and feeding even more mosquitoes for a while - easily the best day of this year.