Saturday, 14 April 2012

Early start at Ashridge and Ivinghoe Beacon still hosting Ring Ouzels (10th April)

I got up at 3:30am in order for an early start at Ashridge Estate.  I still had to cycle there in darkness before reaching my favoured spot where I hoped to encounter Woodcock and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.


As I was getting my bike out of the shed to leave at 4:15am a male Tawny Owl was calling only metres form outside my back garden.  Unfortunately, there was barely any light which made it impossible to see despite only being metres from were I was stood.


I arrived at about 5:40am and the sun had not yet risen.  I walked around the clearing for the whole period of time before the sun rose hoping to encounter at least one obliging Woodcock but to no avail.  The only bird of note before sunrise was a hooting male Tawny Owl.  Later on after sunrise, I resorted to trudging through the wood hoping to either flush one whilst listening out for the drumming of a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, my second target species.  However, this barely reaped rewards as I only got a brief view of a probable WOODCOCK burst up from the forest floor grunting and zigzagging away into a clearing where I assumed it landed out of sight but could not relocate it.  As the morning wore on, the commoner woodland species made an appearance.  I was particularly surprised at the large number of Treecreepers and Nuthatches present.  This probably helped to explain the 3 Sparrowhawks and 2 Kestrels hunting through the wood.  Also of note were 3 Buzzards and a single Fieldfare.  I also saw and heard my first Willow Warbler of the year (at least 3 were present in the small area I visited).


  • cloud 2/3 shade 1-2/3
  • wind 2/3 (at top of hill)
  • temp. 1/3
I arrived at Ivinghoe Beacon during late morning, hoping to connect with some more Ring Ouzels.  Fortunately, after a short period of scanning and not much effort later, I was soon enjoying stunning views of 3♂ RING OUZELS feeding on the south facing slopes of Beacon Hill accompanied by at least 5 Wheatear (including at least 3 males).  The Hills were also alive with the song of Chiffchaffs and even the occasional Willow Warbler, whilst 4 Buzzards circled overhead closely followed by a single Red Kite.

2 of the 3 male Ring Ouzels on the SE Beacon slope

male Wheatear


I was given the tip of that another Ring Ouzel had been found in Incombe Hole prior to my visit so I made a brief visit hoping for a female as I had only seen males so far at Ivinghoe.  Luck was on my side and soon I had a distant view of yet another RING OUZEL feeding on the open ground amongst the bramble bushes.  Also of note were several more singing Willow Warblers, 1 Red Kite, 2 Bullfinches, 2 Kestrels and 1 Green Woodpecker.

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