Thursday, 3 October 2013

A Hole Full of Ring Ouzels

I actually went to Langdon Hole yesterday seeing very little but it was only when I was leaving I found out that  4 ring ouzels had been seen there earlier in the day.  I’d seen and heard none so today I went back.

I arrived around 8.00 am and walking down the main track to the Hole from the Reach Road lay-by I heard then saw 3 of the beauties from about 100 yards. Needless to say they flew off before they came in range then I saw the reason........another early morning birder/photographer – those buggers get everywhere. Still my hopes were high as he told me there were at least 7 present.
For the next hour or so I was constantly seeing them flying from one bush to another (normally 50+ yards away) and circling overhead but I could not get close enough even for a record shot. On several occasions as I walked past a bush I could hear them clucking within but could not see them and because of the geography of the hole you often couldn’t get round the other side.
I met up with Phil Smith and had a chat with the ouzels constantly flying overhead so I managed a few poor flight shots.  
Ring Ouzel
When Phil wandered off to complete his circuit I decided it was time for new tactics.
I knew where one was holed up so I hid behind some bushes close by and I resolved to wait it out. After a few minutes something was moving towards me............a chiffchaff.  
Across the gully I spotted Steve Ashton and Mike Gould but I carried on where I was and actually managed a couple of record shots of other birds but the bird I was staking out remained unseen.
It had gone quiet where I was so I went to find Steve and Mike and found them talking with Phil – I wonder how Phil manages any birding; most of the time he spends talking.
As we stood around chatting it was clear that the birds had moved to this part of the hole and a clump of bushes about 50 yards away had several in it so we moved closer. Needless to say we failed to get any pictures but half a dozen ring ouzels flew out of the bush, over a ridge and eventually we followed. A say eventually because all this walking and (not) taking photographs had been too much for Steve and Mike so everything stopped for a tea break:

Over the ridge the ouzels were really very active and at last one landed in the open. A nice cock; shame it was above the skyline:

As we stood on the south side of a ridge we watched about 15 ouzels moving to the southern-most end of the Hole and once they reached there they flew back over our heads from whence they came.
At this point I gave up the chase and stood on a small ridge about 30-35 yards from one of the clumps of bushes they seemed to like. It was a good move because 4 or 5 ouzels came into this clump and on several occasions they sat in full view and I got some reasonable shots:
I thought I got pictures of one of the ouzels calling but on closer examination of the images I think it has regurgitated a berry and dropped it:
Bringing it up

You can just about see the berry in it's throat

Berry now in the tip of it's beak

Berry has been discarded and is just below the white cresent
We continued for another hour or so but in reality that was that.

Around 11.45 we gave up and made our way back to the cars. A good call as the first drops of rain appeared just as we arrived at the cars.
All in all we think we saw 20-30 ouzels which was really great as I normally struggle to see one. I just wish they had been a bit more cooperative


  1. A good morning Steve, having only seen Ouzel's one at a time to have 20 to 30 birds all at once made up for the lack of photographic opportunities. I suppose I must try harder on the camera front. A nice account.

  2. Good to meet up again this morning Steve and a surprise to see so many ROs. At first I thought it was devoid of birds but its uncanny how many ring ouzels hide quietly in the bushes and such difficult subjects to photograph. You seem to have done a lot better than me!


  4. great photos Steve, and nice to see Compo and Clegg again!!