Mostly detective dramas, esp. BBC as in Inspector Lewis and Midsomer Murders, that kind of thing. It is always the same kind of call, very consistent on the rare occasions that it occurs. It certainly adds to the feeling of suspense, but never appears and is never a part of the plot. I just assumed it is a common nocturnal bird. I think if it were an animal other than a bird the sound wouldn't be so consistent
Thanks,
P. M.

David Boyd <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

Not immediately familiar with this motif, Peter - which particular drama is it?
 
If it's a bird, at night, the usual culprits are owls, either tawny or barn owls, or even swifts or oystercatchers.
 
Is it certain that it's a bird - foxes for example and even domestic cats can make some bloodcurdling noises.
 

 
On 4 November 2012 00:23, P <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
David or anyone else on the list who might know, I watch a lot of British drama. Inevitably, when there is a suspenseful night scene, a bird will call from a distance with a sound a bit like a person being stabbed, or perhaps like a bat out of hell. Any idea what that bird might be?
Thanks,
Peter M.