You might not be able to spot the nightjar, but you can hear it

26 May

Why Evolution Is True

by Matthew Cobb

I used to run a field course for second-year university students at Saint-Auban in the foothills of the French Alps. My favourite bit of the course was when we would drive out at dusk into a deserted valley (seen in the picture below, taken from a nearby peak) and observe the local animals as they emerged from the forest. We would regularly see lowland hare, fox, roe deer and, if we were very lucky, wild boar.

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In the parts of the valley that are dominated by heathland, out of sight on the photo, we would encounter the eerie nightjar. Often, the first sight of this amazing bird would generally be the gleam of its red eye, reflected in the car headlights. For reasons that I don’t think anyone understands, nightjars tend to sit in the middle of the road, playing chicken with any oncoming car. Maybe they…

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