Why Do Birds Suddenly Disappear?

By Lev Parikian

A lapsed and hopeless birdwatcher’s attempt to see 200 birds in a year

Tuesday, 26 July 2016


66% funded.

That’s two-thirds (never mind the spare .66666666etc%). Time for a big ‘huzzah’, but also a medium-sized ‘oo-err…’

Because, you see, the Marvin/Eeyore/Toby Ziegler side of me can only see the downside: we still have to find 33% (never mind the spare .333333333etc%).

It’s amazing to have got this far, really. Enormous gratitude is going out, right this very second, to everyone who has contributed. I hope it arrives safely.

I still have some gratitude left though, and it will come hurtling towards you, specially gift-wrapped, if you can do one thing: somehow persuade just one person to pledge to this book, at whatever level they see fit. Friends, family, neighbours, colleagues, acquaintances, that bloke on the bus who’s reading this over your shoulder, anybody. In return I promise I’ll do my utmost to make the book as entertaining as I possibly can.

And you’ll get that hurtling gift-wrapped gratitude, too. Thanks in advance.

Meanwhile, progress on the birdwatching side of things has also been good. I can’t tell you how close I am to the target of 200 I’ve set myself, because then I’d have to kill you. But I can disclose that I added this beauty to my list last week.

It’s not much of a photo, I’ll admit, but to be honest I was delighted to get a glimpse at all. Two failed trips had led me to put a melancholy line through the bird on my list.

For those who don’t know (and frankly, who could blame you, given the quality, or lack thereof, of the photo), it’s a nightjar. It’s not impossible to see one, by any means, but you have to be in the right place (often a clearing in a forest in southern England) at the right time (dusk in June or July), so that does limit opportunities rather. But when you do find one, well, believe me, if you haven’t shared an intimate moment at dusk in a forest with a nightjar, you haven’t lived.

Thrilling though the sight of it was, the joy of the experience was doubled by the sound it made when it saw me (I assume it couldn't contain its excitement). Here it is. It’s one of the more extraordinary and thrilling sounds of the natural world. What a treat. What a bird.

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