A Nightjar excursion it was. I've been considering a particular site for a while, trouble is it's half an hour across the moor, no path for most of the way and the return is an upward slope meaning you can't navigate easily. It's rough ground, there are lots of pools and channels and it's a midge and mossie paradise.
Getting out there is easy and by two thirds of the way across I could hear a Nightjar so it was bingo, good hunch. The Roe Deer out on the open moor were rather surprised to see a human at that time and coughed and barked at me.
When I got in close I had some excellent views of singing birds, one even perched right in front of me briefly. Hunting and calling birds were zooming about, all was brilliant. Midges and their ilk were entirely ignorant of the supposed powers of the so called insect repellent I had plastered over my head and hands however and after half an hour I reckoned it was time to head for the vehicle.
Turn the volume up for Nightjar song.
Now walking out there Jupiter had been slightly to my left so I reckoned that if I kept the planet over my right shoulder on my return I should just about be ok. Why I had not taken a compass with me I do not know. Initially all seemed well and when the International Space Station zoomed overhead I was carrying on jauntily. I came to some small pools and something large fluttered by my ear, a Nightjar treated me to half a minute's hovering and circling whilst it searched for moths low over the ling.
A bit further along I was missing the ponds I was expecting. The Moon rose to my right. I finally hit the track I was expecting, I seemed to be on it before I'd realised, bit of relief I tramped on. I should have stopped and thought but I was a bit puffed out and just carried on. Briefly heard a distant Nightjar, that was reassuring as I was expecting that. But the track didn't seem right and I couldn't understand how I could be seeing a tractor working in fields to my left (all the lights on).
Of course I'd gone miles off, Jupiter had moved more than I expected, I'd not put a good enough mental picture in my head before I started, it was a disaster that was almost inevitable. I did eventually figure out where I'd got to, wrong dale. But instead of 45 minutes back to the car it took me two and a half hours and I now have rather weary legs. I did see the ISS once more and heard a few Tawny Owls. Next time I'll take a compass.