Spooky Nights

No tricks this Halloween, but I do have a treat for you. I’ll take you on some spooky night walks here, and you won’t get hurt because it’s only photographs.

You are perfectly safe, for example, from this hyena.

Going into the wilderness at night is a great way to see the nocturnal creatures. They come out of their holes and caves and hiding places, and start their evening hunt. It can, however, be a bit unsettling for humans.

Darkness adds to the fright factor, of course. When it’s completely dark and you can see nothing but beady eyes in the grass, it can put you on edge. Those bright eyes could be a harmless night bird…

or a pair of leopards hungrily searching for dinner.

When I first saw this creature (below) in Australia, I gasped, thinking it was a very large rat.

It is a bandicoot, in the marsupial family, and not Rodentia at all. They are nocturnal omnivores.

Whether you’re in a rainforest or on the open plains, if it is dark, the night sounds can be bone-chilling. High-pitched screeching, deep howls and roars are hair-raising.

Hyenas, with their maniacal whoops and growls and laughs, are the opposite of a lullaby.

But worse: the feel of a bat’s wings fluttering inches from the face. It’s happened to me twice.

Bats have excellent echolocation skills, and are not hampered by their poor eyesight. Both times I was outdoors in a very dark place and a bat came so close I could feel and hear the whir of its wings. Both times I had a similar reaction: I was momentarily vexed, then thrilled.

The truth is, I love bats. I like all these animals I have mentioned. They’re all a part of this incredible earth, and even when there’s a moment of fright, it passes quickly.

I find it a privilege to be in the presence of an owl; but they, too, can have some tricks up their winged sleeves.

Owls have specialized feathers and are truly silent in their flight. There have been times when I heard an owl hoot on one side of me, and then suddenly I heard the bird on my other side. It soundlessly and invisibly flew right past me.

While owls are relatively quiet, here’s an owl that can have an alarming screech.

While barn owls shriek, there is another bird I’ve heard that not only shrieks, it also squeals like a pig.

The oilbird.

Enter a dark cave in a rainforest where oilbirds live, and this is what you’ll hear: press this link for a live recording.

Post I wrote Oilbirds in Trinidad

Even if it’s not nighttime, a forest is naturally dark due to the heavy tree canopy.

This big vulture gave me a start. I think I heard him shout, “Boo!”

And then there’s the Amazon, the rainforest of all rainforests. Camping there was a sleepless event, a place where daylight could not come fast enough.

I’ve had a rat come tumbling through the thatched roof into our hut, cockroaches as big as a chapstick scampering around my toothbrush, and howling monkeys that sounded like a Category 5 hurricane. All in the dark.

Big ol’ spiders in the Amazon too.

Even the trees in rainforests are threatening. Look at the thorns on this tree trunk!

They evolve with thorns for protection, which makes sense, but it doesn’t help if you are trying to steady yourself in deep mud.

So when the sun finally arrives, it is usually a relief. Because everything looks better in the daytime.

Except, maybe, for this marine iguana. Day or night, it has a look that will freeze you in place.

So there you go, my friends. A lot of spooky nights for you this Halloween, with none of the heart-thumping frights and gasps. Always remember, daylight is just around the corner.

Written by Jet Eliot.

Photos by Athena Alexander unless noted.

92 thoughts on “Spooky Nights

  1. Awesome post – enjoyed seeing the night creatures and always glad when I can see a good goatsucker. Laughed when I saw the comment about the Barn Owl as I just incorporated their scream into my haunted trail this year – will have to look up the owl you referenced as a potential new add for next year. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks, Brian. It was great to see the nightjar, I’m glad you appreciated how exciting and relatively rare it is to see them. I enjoyed your comment, thanks so much for visiting.

    • I am so very glad you enjoyed the spooky post creatures, Craig. I always enjoy sharing some of the creatures we’re not as familiar with, and I appreciate that you take an interest in them. I hope your entertaining stories are selling well during this Halloween season. Cheers, my friend.

    • You’re absolutely right, Wayne. All the creatures do have better night vision than we do, so they’re always a step ahead. Great fun to have you along for the spooky tour, Wayne. I’m smiling.

    • Wonderful to have you stop by, Susan, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the Halloween post. Thanks for your kind words, and thanks for dropping by. I enjoyed going to your post and revisiting Longwood Gardens. Happy Halloween to you, too.

  2. Thanks, I think Jet. I’m a little spooked by these creepy creatures and your storytelling. I love nature, but wouldn’t enjoy bumping into most of these folks in the night. I can remember the first few times I camped and how disconcerting all the night noises were. Happy Harrowing Halloween!

    • Oh so delightful to hear from you, Janet. And I’m so very happy that you enjoyed today’s Halloween post. Thanks for your kind words and visit today. I’m headed over to see what you have been up to. I have a sister who has been in London for a few weeks, and her musings had me thinking about you, too. Sending smiles your way, my friend.

    • Thank you, Amy. I’m really glad you liked the treat. Yes, photographing owls is very tricky because mostly they are in the dark, so proper equipment is necessary, and they are stealthy so you don’t find them easily. Also, because their eyesight is important to their livelihood, having spotlights and flashes on has to be very limited, so as not to blind them. Thanks so very much for your visit today.

  3. Most excellent low light photography Athena, and a Spooktacular write up, Jet!! I loved it!
    I love that big eye of the Nightjar, and I like bats because they eat so many insects, but I like them in caves and flying somewhere way above me out of sight. ๐Ÿ˜‚

    I think the inspiration for the creature from the Black Lagoon was that Marine Iguana!!! Egads, that’s spooky!!

    Happy Halloween my friend!! ๐ŸŽƒ

    • Really fun to get your comment, Deborah. I know you’ve spent plenty of nights outdoors because of the magnificent night sky photos you’ve taken. I love that big eye of the nightjar, too. It’s always so special to see a nightjar. Many thanks, and Happy Halloween to you, too.

  4. I almost dropped my phone listening to that clip of the pig squealing birds! Goodness Jet you always have surprises for us. Very Halloween appropriate! Best wishes to you and Athena. Enjoy the spooky weekend ahead.

    • I so enjoyed hearing you listened to the oilbirds sound clip, Sue. It’s really quite a shocking sound. Thanks so much for stopping by, it is always a true pleasure to hear from you. Hoping you and Dave are well and having a pleasant weekend.

  5. What fun, Jet, in a horrible sort of way. ๐Ÿ™‚ I can do without giant spiders or cockroaches and the like. Bat eat mosquitoes and things like them so I’m all for bats and I love the owls. Only a few more days and we can get past Halloween and move on to Thanksgiving which, these days, is so badly needed! ๐Ÿ™‚


  6. I loved looking at these pictures – most of these animals live far away from where we are, but we do have bats. If you’re out at night you can see them swooping between the trees. I’d definitely be afraid of the hyena! Thanks for sharing these!

  7. Well all very scary creatures especially the hyena. I would hate to be alone with a pack of hyenas. Lucky for me there aren’t any in Georgia except on Halloween:)

    • When I went out at night in Georgia looking for armadillos, there were some scary moments, Bill. Mossy trees, squirrels conversing, and an opossum rooting around made it mysterious and a little unsettling. lol. But you’re right, there’s not hyenas. Many thanks and a smile to you.

  8. Awesome post, Jet! I was very intrigued and right there in the dark with ya – um, that is until the rat came through the roof, there were cockroaches on your toothbrush, and giant spiders in the Amazon. Zoids, I must be a wilderness wimp! ๐Ÿ˜„๐ŸŽƒ๐Ÿ•ท๐Ÿ‘ป๐Ÿ’€๐Ÿ‘ฝ๐Ÿ‘€๐Ÿ’‹

  9. This post was great fun, Jet. I especially loved the oilbird recording. Egads, I would have sworn it was a pack of hysterical pigs!!! The vision of the rat coming through the roof was the scariest, though. As always, I am very grateful for all the weird and challenging things you and Athena do to bring us these wonderful posts.

    • I am delighted you enjoyed the Spooky adventure, Nan. Yes, the rat coming through the thatched roof was indeed scarier than the oilbirds, so out of the blue. How fun that you took a minute to listen to the oilbird recordings, and concur on the pig element. Thank you so much for your visit, Nan.

  10. Spooky fun! No way I could sleep in the rainforests youโ€™ve described here, knowing whatโ€™s just outside the tent or messing with my toothbrushโ€ฆ Still, theyโ€™ve all an essential role to play somewhere in the ecosystem, and I did enjoy reading this with the lights on.
    Thanks, Jet!

    • It’s great to hear you enjoyed the Spooky Nights, pc, and clever to do so with the lights on. Some of those camping events you’ve described in the PNW forests sound mighty challenging. Always a true joy to hear from you, thank you, pc.

    • Wonderful to have you stop by, Bertie. And I’m happy you enjoyed the Spooky Nights post. And I agree, the specialized owl feathers are marvelous. I am sending my warmest smiles and wishes to you, and thanks.

  11. Oh my, such scareee critters, Jet. Iโ€™m certainly not a camping enthusiast. In Costa Rica we stayed in a cabin in the rain forest snd the howler monkeys kept me awake all night. No windows of course, just mesh over the openings. I was very wary of spiders in the shower where the water came out in only a pathetic trickle. Yes, daytime couldnโ€™t come fast enough for me. Great images for Halloween. ๐Ÿ•ท ๐Ÿฆ‡

    • I sure enjoyed your nighttime adventures in CR, Sylvia. Howler monkeys, awake all night, spiders in the trickling shower. Great fun. Thanks so much for sharing your spooky nights. Sending warm smiles and thanks your way. And Happy Halloween!

  12. A great way to see all these creatures from the safety of my armchair๐Ÿ™‚ I really wouldn’t want to feel a bat flying by so close, although I think I’ve “seen” one, one night, at the cottage.. only a quick dark shadow in the thin air, but the thought is still haunting me! Happy Halloween๐ŸŽƒ๐ŸŽƒ

    • How wonderful, Christie, that you enjoyed observing all these night creatures without having to experience fear. They’re such beautiful creatures, I’m glad you enjoyed them. Thanks so much for stopping by.

    • You’re absolutely right, Andrea, sometimes it’s just the darkness and unidentifiable sounds that make things scary. I’m really glad to “see” you, thanks for stopping by.

  13. I was quite brave until we got to the wolf spider. Arachnids don’t generally bother me too much, but this one put the spook factor over the top! Thanks for the chills and thrills. Hope your Halloween provided many good treats. ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿฌ

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