Ring Ouzels are annual on the hills around Clent, so when the bird news services were reporting up to six, I felt it was well worth a visit.
On Sunday evening, 17th April, the birds had been flushed and had gone to ground in the trees at the bottom of the valley. A singing Tree Pipit and a lovely male Redstart were more than enough compensation, being my first for the year.
I returned on Tuesday evening on the way home from work and scored with six magnificent Ring Ouzels, but unfortunately I didn’t have my camera because I hadn’t expected to see them when I left home at 7 that morning!
So, Wednesday 20th April I was armed with camera in case they were still there, and luckily three were still present. Arriving at 6.45, they had disappeared again, but at least there was a cracking Mistle Thrush to keep me entertained as it plucked a juicy worm from the turf.
Come on you bugger!
Ah, got you. Yummy!
Fortunately, another birder spotted a single female Ring Ouzel on the opposite side of the valley, so I was able to get some distant photo’s and a bit of poor quality video. The bird accompanied a female Wheatear, different to the male that was present the previous evening.
Finally, being left alone to the bird, and hoping for closer photo’s, I spotted the Black Redstart that had turned up earlier that day, so tried a few shots of that feeding on the ground.
It caused me some consternation afterwards, as the bright sunlight make the bird look very different at various angles, and demonstrates that photographs can be deceptive. On some of my pics this bird actually looks like a Wheatear because the wings and tail look black and the mantle pale grey. On others it looks like an immature male Common Redstart with a patchy black mask and reddish tail base. But it is unmistakably a Black Redstart, possibly a first summer male.
Below is a composite image to show the different impressions based on angle and light.
So, over three visits, the tally was:
6+ Ring Ouzel
Add the Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Bullfinch, Buzzards, Swallow and Linnets.
What a great spot! And only 10 miles from home.
And not only that, but I had unknowingly driven past a Hoopoe on two of my visits!!!
To get to the right spot involves a steep walk uphill from the big car park on Walton Hill Road. This is at 52.420448 – 2.085487 on Google Maps, or B62 0NQ for a SatNav.
At Walton Hill Farm itself, take the track above it to view the field and valley to the west.
Both the car park and footpath have fantastic views as well as great birds. Enjoy!
Later that evening, which was warm, clear and sunny, some interesting bats showed from the house. More of that later…..