RICHARD WILLIAMSON Last chance to hear nightjars sing

Woolbeding Common, subject of this week’s walk, is one of the places where you should be able to hear nightjars in summer.

But you’ll have to hurry because they will be finishing their songs in a week and then will fly back to Africa until May 4 next year.

About 100 pairs breed in Sussex normally, but this year has seen less than usual.

Maybe the cold weather has dampened the spirits of the males since they have had to work much harder to find moths and night-flying beetles, so have had less energy to sing.

What a song!

It is more the sound of an old spinning wheel of a football ratchet rattle. You can hear it quarter of a mile away.

But you will be lucky to see this strange bird that looks like a black cuckoo or a huge swift.

Sussex folk have known it as the puck-bird, in league with the devil.

Also goatsucker because it used to catch flies bothering the teat of goats, Eve-jar because it makes its curious sound at dusk only, and fern-owl because that is a very imaginative way to place it among the bracken in the last light of day.

One of the greatest curiosities of Sussex, I think, a fabulous bird and experience when you do have a close encounter.