Monday, 14 April 2008

Anything for the weekend sir?...Ouzel Hunt.

 Over the last couple of days I have been checking out Beacon Hill and Warren Hills hopefully to see if I could find a Ring Ouzel.
Saturday 12th April:
Starting at Beacon Hill, I usually checked the fields by the top car park, as the previous year I found at least three Ring Ouzels in the these fields.
Although the weather wasn't favourable for spring migrants, the top fields had over the previous last couple of days produced three Ring Ouzels( which I had missed), up to five Wheatears, a splendid looking male Redstart ( which I had seen!) and a newly arrived Tree Pipit.
So walking round the top fields the only thing of note I could see was a couple of Willow Warblers singing and a Tree Pipit near the summit of the hill was a slight disappointment of what had happen in the previous days.

Moving on to Warren Hills, like Beacon Hill, it was still pretty quiet, with the only sightings of note was of two Wheatears (Male and Female) in the lower fields next to Charnwood Lodge.
Maybe I was flogging a dead horse came to mind?
Changing tack I decided to check out a few other sites in the Charnwood area, which included Thornton Reservoir, and Wanlip Meadows.
At Thornton Reservoir, the only noteworthy sighting was that one of the Little Owls was showing well not far from the small car park.
My final destination for the day was Wanlip Meadows, but again there not much to report except for a couple of Oystercatchers flying over the meadows, and the odd Sand Martin hawking over the scrape.
So I decided to call it a day, and went to Ms.Mole's house to watch the Ospreys beat the Leicester Tigers at Rugby from Twickenham instead.
The match itself was slightly a one-sided game as the Ospreys ran out victors 23-6 to a very poor Leicester team, but as I'm biased to Welsh teams I was pleased the Ospreys won!

Sunday 13th April:
Another early start saw me again at Beacon Hill, but like the previous day, the spring migrants were very thin on the ground. In fact I didn't even write anything in my notebook it was that quiet! Moving on to Warren Hills, it appeared that like Beacon Hill, there was not much to report. While I was at this site I received a text message from Ben Croxtall, who was at nearby Bardon Hill, and it sounded that he was having the same luck as me for finding Ring Ouzels. So I decided to move on to the Soar Valley.

Starting at Cossington Meadows, I took the long circular walk around the reserve, checking out Rectory's marsh and the Lower marsh section first, then I moved on to the Tern Pool and the Hobley Lake area. The birds I recorded in this area included a fly-by Curlew, and a single Green Sandpiper on Hobley Pool. At around the same time I got a pager message that a male Ring Ouzel was at Warren Hills. So cursing my luck, I phoned Ben to let him know about the Ouzel, and then drove back to Warren Hills.

Scanning the fields at Warren Hills, I myself and Ben took a good 30 minutes to refound the male Ring Ouzel, which as usual appeared from nowhere, after we had scanned the same field at least thirty times.
Other birds in the same field included at least two female Wheatears, and a large flock of ninety-plus Fieldfares.
Watching the Ouzel, I took a few distant record digiscope shots of the bird.
At around the same time I also saw the strange behaviour of three Jackdaws collecting hair from a nearby cow's back!(See the photo above).
After watching the Ouzel for a good 20 minutes, I retraced my steps and went back to the Soar Valley.
Finishing the day I had look round Watermead CP South and Birstall Meadows which produced more spring migrants in the form of a nice looking Black-tailed Godwit, and a brief Curlew on the meadows. Small groups of Sand Martins and Swallows were hawking over the gravel pits, and the long staying female Scaup was gorging herself on the local halfwits bread rations!
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