Wednesday, 14 April 2021

Linky Down & Adderbury Lakes :: 13 April 2021

There had been a report of ring ouzel at Burton Dassett on Sunday but I'd concentrated on the local visiting common redstarts. I had no time on Monday but had a day off on Tuesday so I'd arranged to meet Kevin Heath and travel (separately) to Linky Down which is more reliable for rouzels - more special to go with Kev as he hadn't seen one before despite trying for the one at Burton Dassett over the weekend - in fact no one had managed to relocate it.

We opted for the early shift again, arriving by 8.00am. We parked in the Aston Rowant Car Park, booted up and slung our scopes onto our shoulders - it was likely we'd need them if the birds were at the bottom of the valley. We had chiffchaff, blackcap and numerous red kite as we made our way to the likely spot. We scanned at the head of the valley and then followed the path around the motorway side of the valley. Up to five magpies fed down in the hollow along with a single pheasant. We watched some red kites cruise around, ocassionally dropping to pick up what would likely be worms.

Red kite
Red kite

After a few minutes Kev scanned again but this time there was a male rouzel feeding; as we continued to search we added a female. Result. We posted the sightings on WhatsApp and soon it had been uploaded to the Oxon Bird News site. Another birder appeared and he explained this was his fifth attempt to see one here this year and was happy to hear they were in view. I took a couple of record shots but it must have been 175m+ to the birds.

Ring ouzel

The male took to the wing and headed up towards us and we had great views. I didn't take a photo as I assumed that it would land somewhere around our position and I'd get a better opportunity - mistake. The bird dropped over the trees and behind the fence line. Although we had decent views it wasn't really possible to get a decent photo. We made our way round and saw the bird hanging about with a few blackbirds but quickly took off and disappeared - the last we were to see of it. The female showed in the hollow for another five minutes but it then too went awol. Despite searching and scanning we didn't connect again.

We were making our way back to the car park when a chap came the other way - he'd seen the news update and hopped into the car to have a look. Another Scot, from Dundee - I hope the rouzels played ball.

Kev and I dropped our scopes into the boot of my car, had a circuit of Cowleaze Woods and were surprised about how few birds we encountered. Goldcrest saved the day with a number showing high in the tree canopy. Red kite and buzzard dropped into trees ahead of us but left before we got close.

Eventually we returned to the far end of the car park and Kev picked out the call of a nuthatch. It flew across the clearing and onto a branch, perching there for quite a while before it took to the trunk of the tree - we'd never seen such a confiding individual. It continued to entertain for a good five minutes and even without our views of rouzels, it was worth the ticket money alone. We parted and made our way home.


After lunch I suggested a walk with her indoors and we settled on a visit to Adderbury Lakes. We reached the edge of the top pool and watched three blackcap feeding on flies out across the water, returning from each foray onto overhanging branches. A couple of chaffinch arrived and mimiced the behaviour. There were moorhen and mallard on the water and chiffchaff in every direction.


On the other side we spotted a pair of sparrowhawk and the male did us proud, landing on a branch and giving good views. A short but enjoyable walk.


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