Sunday, 11 April 2010

Water Ouzel & Rock Blackbird

With another fine day in prospect and work allowing a few hours out this morning I took Iron Maiden's philosophical advice and had a run to the hills. An early start meant roads devoid of cars leaving only the usual irridescent scattered corpses of roadkill, mostly Pheasant, to peer at. This morning a new phenomenon has appeared on the county's major roads, every quarter mile punctuated by large billboards with the bloody awful, dumbed down innovative, inspiring and somewhat ironic election slogan of the blue party "Vote for Change".
Ironic? Well, with less than the width of a Dunnock's tadger between all the politicos you just know nothing is going to change don't you.

Of course all of these signs will have the necessary local authority approval, or perhaps there is an exemption when its political, its ok to make the countryside look bloody awful.

By 06:30 any morning mist had long since departed and it was with clear views I set off on foot from the car. There is something hugely gratifying about looking for a bird in a vast wild area like the Cheviots with its big landscapes, I know it makes the experience somehow more real, something to savour. Sometimes its amazing what sitting down and having a little patience produces.
An easy stroll, broken by frequent stops, along the eastern side of a steep, scree strewn rocky valley with the tumbling burn in an audio duel with the tinnitus ring in my right ear. A Song Thrush sang from somewhere above me and the occasional Wren scolded me from the gorse. I stopped regularly listening and scanning the rocky escarpments on the opposite side of the valley and before long I was rewarded with a singing Ring Ouzel the steady insistent song ringing out from high on the rocks. On the return leg I had at least two males in the sunshine singing.

Further up the burn two Dipper a shorter tailed version of the Ring Ouzel, albeit from a different family, played chase along a rocky section. My mind wandered, wondering why they weren't called 'Water or River Ouzel', a little checking at home suggests that they were indeed referred to as Water Ouzel in early records in the 16th century.
A couple of Roe Deer headed uphill away from me, the regular repetitive notes of Chiffchaff were never far from earshot. I took a minor detour on the way back only to find myself higher than expected in the scree, faced with the bones of an animal far more fleet footed than me I gingerly picked my way back down. A few Primrose brightened the hillside.


The journey back was uneventful,  several Common Buzzard, good numbers of Oystercatcher dotted around along with a group of 10-15 Sand Martin around the Breamish. I did come across a small roadside pool that held the bones and skull of what I think is a Common Snipe but I need to clean it up a little before trying to photograph it. The same pool held a good number of Common Toad including this couple who appear to have been busy, at least he has as he looks pretty exhausted.

A final detour to the local gravel pits produced a third self found addition for the morning with a smart Great Crested Grebe, never close despite me staying in cover the image doesn't do the species justice. The nearby roads offered the occasional photogenic wanderer as I headed home.



Killy Birder said...

Gasp.......I tuned in this morning and thought you had gone all 'blue' on us Alan. I was about to unfurl the red flag on my blog so as to balance things out a bit, then I realised....:-)

Steve Lowe said...

There's a presumption in that poster that change is good!!

Terry said...

I think we've seen this change lark before...!

alan tilmouth said...

Brian, the only thing that turns blue is the air around me sometimes.

Steve, there is and sometimes it isn't.

Terry, excellent, not seen this before ta.