The first Ring Ouzel ever recorded at The Scrubs in April 2004The Ring Ouzel has always held a very special place in my heart since I was a little boy swatting up the aves featured within the Birds of Britain and Europe. When I cam across the plate that featured this wild montane species that was illustrated cheek-to-jowl with its far commoner urban congenor, the Blackbird, I knew that it was love at first sight.
Years later I saw my first one flash past whilst I was partying on Corfu, Greece back in 1987 followed by the three I found in spring 1989 in 'The Desert' at Dungeness. Both venues along with a sighting on the Scilly Isles also in 1989 were the typical places that I expected to see this wary species. Under hypnosis I might also recall the time I saw a solitary 'blackbird' swoop through a glen, whilst wandering around the Cairngorms, Scotland in 1976. On reflection, that bird was almost certainly my first Rouzel but I allowed our group leader - a non-birding stamp collector - to convince me that it was a Blackbird.
In April 2004 I found a Rouzel at The Scrubs after having a premonition that I would discover one that morning. It was the first that I had seen one in an urban environment and certainly the first to be recorded at The Scrubs. It also made me appreciate that these birds stop off in urban areas despite their wild mountain-loving personas. Ring Ouzels have occurred on my patch every year since that first one and although it is usually a case of being in the right place at the right time when it comes to witnessing their brief visits, on occasion birds have hung around for up to three weeks!
Our chase to reach 100 species in a year at The Scrubs gathered momentum after today's Rouzel was discovered. We have now equalled the most seen ever, a record set in 2010 and we are now on the way to greatness. I missed this morning's Rouzel due to football but I will be all over The Scrubs tomorrow. Given today's heavy passage of this gorgeous thrush (205 seen in Hastings, Sussex today, for instance) I got a feeling that you will be reading more about Rouzels on this blog in the coming days.