A Ring Ouzel – An excerpt from the chapter ‘Patch Attachment’

On the 5th of April, something happened that again shifted my perspective and attitude towards my patch. There had been a couple of Ring Ouzels reported around the Norfolk Coast that week and deep inside I had a longing to find one on the patch. This was more than just a longing though, it was an insatiable drive and determination for it to happen albeit with a few hints of obsessing over it. Whilst I don’t believe that you can actually will things to happen, I guess some would say that ‘where there’s a will there’s a way’.

I had a spare twenty minutes on route to my mindfulness session, so I thought I would pop into Cawston Heath and have a quick scan of the paddocks for any ouzels. In my mind it was as good a place as any and in a prime location, although it’s fifteen miles inland from the coast at Cromer, it is part of a corridor of woodland and heath that stretches North-East from Norwich like a sandy green artery. This makes it an unlikely staging post for anything migrating over the county as the next obviously vegetated area is the Holt-Cromer Ridge to the North of the county.

I walked my familiar circuit, this in itself instilling a feeling of serenity and belonging in the short window of time I had available but not yielding much in the way of birds. I honed in on a Blackbird at the corner of the heath by the horse paddocks. “It’s carrying nesting material” I thought to myself as I watched it moving along the fence-line. I was keen to see if I could observe a probable nest site as any breeding bird records, no matter how common the species is, are nice to share.

It turned to face me, head-on, standing to attention as the commanding sentinel of the hillsides should. The nesting material was in fact its white collar and it was unmistakeably a Ring Ouzel. I brimmed with excitement and this must have manifested in the speed of my movement towards it as I flushed it into flight and up to the top of one of the trees lining the access road uttering its harsh, guttural ‘chack’ call from the highest branches, even more commanding than it had stood before. Time had flown by and I too had to fly to my mindfulness session as the unexpected interruption of this fabulous bird had made me a bit late.

 

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