The terrible severity of Dumfries and Galloway’s midge population has been fully realised over the past two or three days, and I have never done such a brisk job of gralloching a roe buck as I did on Monday night as clouds of bloodsuckers descended on me like smoke. They clattered in my ears and scrambled down my shirt collar, and I wiped bloody smears of them off my forearms as I worked to lift the puddings out of the cull buck I’d dropped in the heather.
The same miserable infestation came whining into view last night as my wife and I took a late night bicycle ride up the hill in the half darkness. I was hoping to find nightjars and was not disappointed as a groaning drone came buzzing through the larches, but the delight of the song was obliterated by the ravenous squadrons of midges which rose out of the verge and began to dismantle us. Bats did their best to pick them off, but there was no chance of winning out against the hordes. Fortunately, the best place to look for nightjars is at the top of a long hill, with a track which winds down through the bracken and birch scrub. After five minutes with the proverbial “goat suckers”, we freewheeled our speedy getaway down through the mild, perfumed stillness of may blossom and myrtle back to the house.
I am mildly obsessed with nightjars, and these birds certainly warrant further exploration, particularly since a still night might make them audible from the front doorstep. However, as long as the midges remain at full strength, nothing will be much fun.