Friday, 10 April 2009

Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus) - Linkey Down, Aston Rowant. 09/04/09

I made an early evening trip to Aston Rowant to see the male Ring Ouzel that had been found on Linkey Down SU726962 today. After stopping off a number of times last week with no success I was eager to see if I could get any good photos of him. It is an extremely difficult place to get decent photos due to the distance away from the birds but always worth a try.

View map of SU726962 on
Get directions to or from SU726962

Leaving the car at the lay-by I headed off towards Linkey down, at the entrance to the reserve a single Willow Warbler was singing from the pathway near the picnic tables and 3 Chiffchaffs could be heard calling from further afield. The usual Red Kites were circling overhead as were a pair of Buzzards that later were seen perched in the trees in the western woods at Linkey Down. Approaching Linkey Down a few Skylarks were in full song hovering high in the sky above the fields and the hedgerows hosted both Blue and Great Tit.

I met a gentleman who was on his way up the path after watching the Ring Ouzel and he told me the last seen location, after a quick chat I headed off to view the reserve. I set up my scope and scanned the area mentioned without any luck.

I was then joined by another birder and we continued to scan the juniper thickets without much joy, a distant pair of blackbirds proved difficult to immediately identify as they disappeared behind the fauna giving poor views. After sometime we finally got good views of them and hoped that the male Ring Ouzel would be with them. it wasn't and I scanned the vast area across the downs starting at the point it was seen earlier, as I scanned the fenced pens on the eastern slope I spotted the Ring Ouzel moving in to view. it must have been there all along but out of view from where we were standing. It continued searching for food amongst the juniper thickets and grass whilst moving slowly down Linkey Down, a few worms were seen to be taken no doubt aided by the wet weather we had earlier in the day softening up the ground.

The male Ring Ouzel continued to feed around the fenced pens for 30 minutes before being flushed by 2 Roe Deer running across the down. I left at 19:15 with the bird still present.

I normally view Linkey Down from the footpath tat leads down to Hill Farm SU727963, from the lay-by follow the path towards the picnic tables, then through the gate which leads to Linkey Down. After walking along the path you will see the busy M40 in front of you and a short walk down the hill will take you to another gate at the side of Linkey Down. After opening the gate as quietly as possible (it's noisy and alerts everything to your presence) walk 50-75yards and then over to the barbed wire fence on your left, from here it is possible to look down and view the reserve. Over the years I have noted that the Ring Ouzels seem to have a few favoured spots which include the long strip of juniper bushes directly below the viewing spot mentioned above, Along the fence line that stretches north-east to south-west and dissects Linkey Down with the open grass fields. failing that the fenced pens of trees and juniper bushes on the eastern slope are also a good spot but can be difficult to view from some areas.

Earlier in the day whilst working in Chalgrove, Oxon I had seen small numbers of Swallow passing through with one small group including a lone House Martin.

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