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Ring Ouzel & Yellowhammer
April 15, 2015
My last job today was in Newbury and with such fine weather and a reasonably early finish, it would of been rude of me not to go find me a Ring Ouzel as the sighting reports over the last week were not far away, Greenham Common and Combe Gibbet to be precise. Anyhow, a brief stop for a Costa coffee and a short drive and I was on Greenham Common. I drove over a cattle grid, around a few bends and oh my god, a Ring Ouzel in a tree by the roadside right opposite a layby, result! I have never seen one of these before but I knew immediately what it was, similar to a Blackbird but with a white scarf halfway around its neck. By the time I see it and realised what it was, I'd driven past the layby where the bird was. I found the safest spot to spin my van around and hurriedly scurried back up the the road to the layby. No bird, it was gone. So, out with the camera and off I went in search. I spent some 40minutes trying to find it but no joy, I even loaded up the call of this bird on my phone and started playing it in the hope the bird would come investigate, but nope, it did no such thing. The best thing about playing and learning the sound here was that it found me the birds later!
So, back to my van it was, I was now on a mission to find another and photo an Ouzel. I see a report earlier of 12+ birds at Combe Gibbet, so off I went to try and find this place, I'd never heard of it before, a quick google gave me brief direction to a car park. I found a car park but had no idea if it was the correct place. I sat in my van supping on a coke for a bit wondering if it was the place or not. After a little while a car pulled up and out jumped a trio of bird watchers armed with bins and scopes, this gave me great hope in so far as I was at least in the correct location, so I build up my camera and off I went. I met with the birders a bit further up and they too were after the Ouzels, two of them stayed at the bottom of the hill by the road and I walked up with the other gent to the top where his friend was on the look out, no birds! The three of us walked a bit further along but nope, nothing. After 10 minutes or so, the two guys I were with had to go and off they went, I however, was still on a mission. I carried on walking up the path and after some 35minutes of walking, I hear a familiar sound calling,,,,Ouzels, after a quick scan I had 6 in the hedge row, very distant at maybe 100 meters or so and obscured by twigs. I took a few shots and that was that, I'd seen and photod one, record shots at best, I dont like record shots but I am learning that sometimes you just have to take what you can get and this was one of those times. The walk back to the carpark was rewarding, a dozen or so Yellowhammers were spotted, another photo grab.
It was well worth the visit, two new birds with one stone, they will certainly help with hitting 140 species photographed before the year is out.