Monday, 12 October 2015

Oodles of Ouzels

The last week or so I have been visiting Langdon Hole looking for ring ouzels and hoping against hope that one will let me get closer than 50+ yards. I had seen some (ones and twos) but on every occasion they had disappeared as soon as I'd found them. Today my luck changed.

I'd started as normal at Kingsdown but it was cold and pretty blowy and only a few chiffs were found amongst the resident tits.

Approaching the Hole from Reach Road I decided to take the footpath along the top of Harbour Field and found 2 ring ouzles immediately. I was looking into the light and they flew off towards the sea and disappeared. I walked toward South Foreland thinking they had gone that way but nothing.
I turned back towards the Hole and as I was coming down the east side of Harbour Field two ouzels flew out of the only bushes there; then a third, a forth and then a fifth. It quite amazing just how difficult they are to see when in bushes. The birds all flew to just below the gate into the Hole (where the path get very steep). I could see 4 of them; the question was how close could I get.

I spent a few minutes watching them and pondering my next move. 4 were in sight but one of them looked strange - it seemed to have white on it's head?

Close up of the shot above

After a while, and having nothing to lose I moved down the path to where it forms a narrow gully and where I was partially hidden by bushes and set up shop hoping they would come to me.
One did - a young female with almost no cresent on her chest.

Another followed clacking away and landed to my left but out of sight. I remained patient.
I was just think wouldn't it be good if one landed on a bush that was only a few yards away and pondering what camera settings would be appropriate when it did!!!!!

Not only was it less than 10 yards away but it was the strange looking bird with white on it's head - I'm glad I'd been fiddling with exposure setting!

After a minute or so the bird flew off to the right but was still within camera range (just):

My fun ended when 3 walkers came by and decided they wanted to look at the sea from where the remaining birds were. The birds flew off into the bottom of the hole....I followed.

It was clear there had been a significant influx because there were around a dozen birds clacking away in the bottom of the Hole.

Again I watched trying to identify a place where I could hide and hope they would come nearer.
I was successful (sort of) in that I found a place and one came and sat on a bush 25 yards or so away for several minutes but it was the only one.

Eventually I gave up and was leaving when Phil Smith showed up. He'd been watching a similar number of birds over the ridge from my group making 20+ birds.

Also seen were several song thrushes, a few chiffs and a few goldcrests. Linnets, yellowhammers and goldfinch (over) were pretty numerous and a pair of stonechats were around. All in all a good morning.

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