Saturday, 7 April 2012
It's that time of year when one of my favourite birds graces our land. The Ring Ouzel is a wonderfully enignatic bird, found on the moors of Derbyshire but also at odd locations around the country on migration. These places turn up Ring Ouzel religiously year after year, and it always fascinates me why they decide to use these areas as stop-overs. I used to live in Luton and Ring Ouzel had a magnetic attraction to a little piece of chalk outcrop called Blows Down. This used to be my regular Ouzel pick-up point! However, nowadays Blows Down is too far, so yesterday we visited Berry Hill Fields, an equally Ouzel-friendly site. The similarity to Blows Down is amazing. An area of high ground, short cropped grass and low growing shrubs, sectioned off into a myriad of horse paddocks. And only a stones throw from the urban sprawl! Lying on the outskirts of Stoke-on-Trent, the number of birds that occur at Berry Hill on a yearly basis is staggering. Apart from the Ouzels, the site attracts Wheatear, Whinchat, Redstarts and many other passage migrants. After wandering around and trying to get used to the area, we stumbled on a birder who beckoned us over and pointed out the Ring Ouzel. It was a bit far away so could only grab this mobile shot through the scope. This Ouzel join four other members of the thrush family, including a late Fieldfare.