Showing posts from April, 2022

Of local Ouzels

Ring Ouzels are one of those birds that can make a patchworker's day - they are unusual enough, and good-looking enough, to warrant giving you a feeling of satisfied pleasure - especially if the bird before you is a male. Here in northern Surrey I am lucky enough to be able call this thrush an almost annual passage migrant. If I don't see one locally during a calendar year it will be more because of my lack of effort rather than the birds not having been there. Within the uberpatch they are most likely to be found on scrubby downland, farmland or within horse paddocks, but they can pop up anywhere. The most unlikely location was a suburban back garden in Cheam one April afternoon. The map below illustrates where, across the uberpatch, I have recorded them, broken down into spring and autumn passage birds. I have not plotted every sighting, as both Beddington and Canons Farm have hosted multiple encounters, but the spring/autumn breakdown is reflected. My local extreme dates are

Cirl Buntings

I recently spent a few days in the small but perfectly formed town of Shaldon, in south Devon, nestled on the southern flank of the mouth of the Teign estuary, where the river discharges into the Atlantic Ocean. Although not a birding trip, the optics, of course, came along too. Two dawn starts were made (31st March and 2nd April) where I walked southwards along the South-West Coast path, leaving Shaldon via a number of steep slopes before arriving at Labrador Bay, an area of farmland, copse, gorse scrub and hedgerow, managed in part by the RSPB - whose presence is explained by residency of a very special bird indeed - the Cirl Bunting. Coming from Surrey, I have few opportunities to watch this species, although I am old enough to have seen this bunting in my home county (way back in the 1970s and early 80s, although even then the population was down to a single pair). My two visits to Labrador Bay were blessed with clear skies, sunshine and shelter from a nagging and cold northerly wi