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21 April 2012
Tardiness pays a dividend
Late out to the flats today (I wont go into details) Tim texted me about a Wheatear in the brooms. As I passed the increasingly large puddle that is the Bandstand (AKA Angel Pond) I saw Tim retreating down one path and Jono approaching up another. We finally met up in the middle of the broom field and started discussing the Nightingale survey that Tim had signed us up for. Not that we will get a Nightingale (last reported singer was 2 year's ago, an all too brief moment in park), but we discussed the logistics anyway. A large thrush flew out of the hawthorn down the path from us. I am sure it was a Mistle Thrush, but wasn't really certain. We chatted on. A thrush flies around us and lands in the brooms not 20 yards to the south. As one we raise our bins and as one exclaim "Ring Ouzel!"
After failing to find Jono's previous birds, one comes to find us. I had thought the moment for these majestic birds had passed and I would have to wait for the autumn. We stood transfixed while the bird clutched the side of a broom then dropped down and disappeared into the undergrowth. Amazingly slender, like the super model of the thrush world and quite a different shape to the regular Blackbird.
I had considered it just too far for a good snap, but when has that ever stopped me, thinking that I would get a better shot when it poked its head out again. We waited.
News sent out to local birders, we waited some more. It was beginning to remind me of a certain April day last year spent staring at a log. We waited some more. Harry Lacey and Barry Bishop turned up and joined in the fun. We now had all the angles covered, so as long as we concentrated nothing would get passed us.
When it did shoot out it still took us by surprise. A quick arc and it landed in the little oak favoured by the mipits beyond the broom, then it was spooked by a Sparrowhawk and flew high to south copse where we followed. From there it was flushed by dog walkers and zipped up into the top of a tree in west copse. Finally we all got a good scoped view before it flew down and disappeared as is the remarkable ability of these birds.
Smiles all round though!