National Geographic : 1955 Oct
Eventually, however, he granted permission, provided I did not speak to any monk after complin, the last prayers of the day at 8 p.m., or use my camera in any way that might give offense to the brethren. Weird Symphony of the Night The first two nights of my stay I had been fitfully aware of a strange churring sound, rather like that of a sewing machine. On the third night, as it started again, I slipped on my clothes and hurried outside. A three quarter moon spread its light over the sunken garden of the guesthouse, where the weird symphony continued unabated. Something like a big bat circled overhead. Suddenly it brought its wings together in a series of loud claps, startling at close range. Another of the creatures appeared, and the two long-winged, long-tailed shapes flitted si lently about at head height. The churring had ceased. All at once it dawned on me that I had in truded on the courtship of the nightjar, or goatsucker.* This migrant from Africa builds no true nest. It lays two eggs on the ground, usually under gorse, where its color, like that of a brown lichen-covered stick, tones with its surroundings. Of course it doesn't suck the milk of goats, though old time naturalists thought it did. Its food con sists of harmful insects and beetles. As the days passed, I quickly got on * See "Humming Birds, Swifts, and Goatsuckers," by Alexander Wetmore, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGA ZINE, July, 1932.