Tuesday, 17 April 2012


Last week there were reports all over the local birding blogs of up to 13 Ring Ouzels (turdus torquatus) being spotted on Ivinghoe Beacon. The Beacon is a well known feeding and 'resting up' point  for the birds  during their Spring migration from their winter home in the Mediterranean  region back to their breeding sites in the remote highlands of the North of England, Scotland and Scandinavia.

So, on Saturday I made a phone call to Keith and we arranged to meet at the Beacon car park at 6 o'clock the next (Sunday) morning. Keith had already been to the Beacon on the Saturday morning but readily agreed to another visit!! (see his blog here)

Sunday morning dawned cold and frosty (-3 degrees C  overnight) but  a clear sky was heralding the prospect of a sunny day. After meeting  at the appointed hour and a quick cup of coffee (thanks Keith!) we started to walk down the path to the Beacon. In the silence of the early morning we heard a sound... "what was that", said  Keith," did you hear it?.. sounds like elephants! "  Then we heard it again..." no !" I said, "I reckon it sounds like lions roaring"....then the penny dropped what we could hear were the lions roaring from Whipsnade (London) zoo, about  two and a half miles away across the valley, we were on our own little safari !!

Whipsnade chalk Lion with the zoo and Hippo house in the background

After noting Chiffchaff, a Nuthatch and Linnets we soon arrived at the area where the Ring Ouzels, about ten, were already showing well in the early morning sun. Unfortunately the sun was behind the birds, not in the perfect position for photography! 

Also showing well were about eight to ten Wheatears.

Occasionally little skirmishes would break out.

Keith feeling all penned in...or was he on the lookout for Lions?
Skylarks 'performing' in the clear blue sky and Meadow Pipits posing on prominent perches also added interest to the scene.

Have you ever had one of those moments when your mind starts to drift off and you start to 'see' things that are not really there?  well, I had one of those moments and saw Snoopy flying through the sky!!...what do you think?

So after around five and a half hours of excellent 'Ouzel watching it was time to call it a day and make our way  back to the cars and home, via a brief visit to a nearby Bluebell wood (see Keith's excellent image here).

I enjoyed the day so much that I decided to go back for another visit on the Monday morning!
Again the birds were showing well. Unfortunately the day was spoilt by a few mindless people - idiots - and mostly photographers I'm ashamed to say, who decided it was good practice to stalk and chase the birds across the entire hillside.
 Don't these people realise that the birds need  to rest and feed up to be able to continue on their long migration journey, and if they just pick a spot, stand quietly and wait, most birds will eventually 'come' to them?   Rant over!

On the way back to the car this Chiffchaff was singing his heart out from his lofty perch.

I did take some video, not very good I'm afraid ...but anyway, here it is!!


Bob Bushell said...

Ouzels, Ouzels and Ouzels, no, I haven't been out where they are. Damn. You have caught them, in their prime. Love your photos. And, yes, I could see Snoopy, lovely cartoon.

grammie g said...

Hi Trevor...Oh I saw the Snoopy right away..nose ears cape and all ; } !!
A good dog fight going on there with the Wheaters too! : }
That is a great photo with Keith (the old bugger)probably on the look out of Lions...lol...but no matter who the person in it is the photo also has a real classic..(darn I wish I could think of the words to discribe the feeling of it!! Like the whole look of it..I give up ; }!!
Nice you got some good shot,and video of your Ringed Ouzel..very nice!!
Love all your bird photos... they are always great..that last one is wonderful!!

holdingmoments said...

It was a good mornings visit Trevor.
You got some great shots, and the skirmish between the Wheatears was a great catch.
Hope I never confuse Lions and Elephants out in the bush! lol

Enjoyed the video. They certainly work hard for their food.
Shame about the idiots on Monday.
We were rewarded with patience; just stand and wait for the birds to come to us.

The Herald said...

Thanks Bob, glad you liked the photos...[;o)

Thanks Grace, don't worry I know what you're saying, I just 'saw' that photo and had to take it!!...[;o)

Cheers Keith. Yeh, it was a good outing. Those Wheatear shots were all planned, you know!...lol.

As for Monday, I guess there's no accounting for idiots, they just spoil it for others!...[:-{


love your film of the ring ouzel , i have never seen one, so glad you filmed it. and the snoopy cloud Great.

The Herald said...

Thanks Peter, glad you liked...[;o)

Andrew said...

A wonderful day for you then..
I have never seen an R/Ouzel but have heard reports of them im Cheshire..so fingers crossed.

Roy said...

Fabulous images you have taken Trevor, what a treat to see the Ouzels. You also took a great silhouette image of the "Wildlife Gunslinger".{:)

The Herald said...

Andrew, we had a great day. I hope you do get the chance to see them, they're a stunning bird!...[;o)

Thanks Roy. It was great to see so many Ouzels in one place, and at times they were quite confiding!

As for 'gunslingers' they're a rare breed so you have to snap them when you can...lol...[;o)

ShySongbird said...

Wonderful photos Trevor! I've never seen a Ring Ouzel and went to what I thought would be a likely place at the weekend but no luck. They have been seen near me but the thought of encountering a twitchers convention is enough to immediately send me in the opposite direction so i was hoping to find one for myself...oh well, never mind!

Your patience was definitely rewarded with some great shots, I like the Meadow Pipit too. Yes, Snoopy is definitely there... I have always seen pictures in the clouds :-)

The Herald said...

Hi Jan, thank you for your kind comments. I'm sorry that you missed out on seeing the Ouzels in your area, but if you get another chance it's well worth going to see them, they're a beautiful bird!

I'm not a twitcher but when I do come across a group of them I like to stand to one side and listen to their fisherm...er...twitchers stories, very entertaining!!

I'm pleased that you could see Snoopy, I very often enjoy a bit of daydre...cloud watching..lol....[;o)

BlueShell said...

I love coming here. I always get surprised with such beauty!


The Herald said...

Isabel, thank you for those kind comments...[;o)