Wildlife watching needn't stop when the light fades to dusk, and finally complete darkness. Far from it. In fact, there are certain creatures that require a night-time visit if you wish to see or hear them.
Take nightjars, for example. Their mechanical song is one of the most incredible sounds of any bird, but it's only heard in the last few minutes of daylight as dusk slowly edges towards night. Choose a calm, overcast evening in mid summer and head to a nearby heathland or woodland clearing and you might be lucky enough to hear these amazing birds. At Minsmere, the best place to look is on Westleton Heath, especially the area north of the Roman road. We still have places available on our nightjar guided walks on Friday 22 and Saturday 30 June. Walks start at 9 pm at the visitor centre, From there we drive in convoy to the heath then have a short walk to look and listen for nightjars. If you're interested in joining us, please call 01728 648281 to book a place, which costs £5 per person.
Nightjars are not the only birds we usually hear on these walks, as you may be lucky enough to hear a tawny owl, or distant stone-curlew calling. Mammals, too, can be found at dusk, including pipistrelle and noctule bats, red deer, or perhaps a barking fox. With luck, you might even spot a badger crossing the road.
Dusk is also a great time to look for insects. Glow-worms usually take a starring role on the nightjar walks - their green fluorescent glow is best found by searching the heather along the edge of sandy tracks just as it gets fully dark.
But, of course, the best known night-time insects are moths. We run a moth trap most nights at Minsmere, helping the wardens to identify more than 1000 different species on the reserve. Next Saturday, 23 June, we have a special moth night event, when wardens and volunteers will help you to identify some of these wonderful insects as they are attracted to the lights in the traps. (Don't worry, once identified they are released again.) Moth night starts at 9.30 pm. Advance booking is required by calling the same number, and prices are again £5 per person.
Nightjar by Andy Hay