Friday, April 05, 2019

Not seeing Ring Ouzels

I have a thing about Ring Ouzels. More accurately I have a thing about not seeing them. I've seen enough over the decades, some quite well, and they never fail to excite. If I was to calculate the optimum migrant, the one that is not so rare you hardly ever come across them (think Hoopoe), nor so common you don't really rate them (think Yellow Wagtail or Wheatear), but the one with the best chance of giving you a memorable moment, it would be Ring Ouzel.

Recent Ring Ouzels at regular Herts hotspots gave me the impetus to trudge the intensively farmed and manicured fields of the local "high ground" centred round the Tharbies farm. 6 Fieldfare over as I parked up by the local cemetery, then really not much apart from a couple of Yellowhammers and Skylarks until I got to the top of the rise, and saw some promising brown clumps in a recently ploughed and levelled field. On arriving at a suitable roadside viewing position it was clear these were 21 Golden Plover. And what a sight. Always a neat bird, as they attain summer plumage they are spectacular. These were as close as you can reasonably get to such wary birds (ie the middle of the field from the edge) but nevertheless sparkled gold and solid intense black. Fantastic.

I went on up the road opposite to another high point, and had nothing on the ground but did have 4 Cormorant ploughing their way north through the patch, and a couple of Buzzards rode the thermals.

Back to the Goldies, and more time spent enjoying them. The Buzzards came closer with one over the field, then a raptor behind - Peregrine! It shouldn't be a surprise to see these here, I've seen them here before and they breed within a couple of hours flight, but it was a great sighting. For ten minutes it cruised around with a bit of rapid flight, eventually drifting over my head and away.

Well, after that I was well and truly in the zone; every bird seemed better. Two very charming Blue Tits low over a field to avoid the wind, and another pristine Yellowhammer. All now seemingly significant, not everyday sightings.

So a smashing local trip, with some great views of notable birds, and not a Ring Ouzel anywhere in sight. Next time.

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