Thursday, 6 May 2010

The Ring Ouzel.

Ring Ouzel male at nest with young. Peter Guy.

A set of circumstances means I'm at the computer again today amongst other things....not good for mind or body actually but life can be dangerous at times can't it.

First I must thank Peter Guy for the image of the Ring Ouzel feeding young at the nest, not a photograph achievable to everyone and in many respects thank goodness for that. It seems many birders have had success in the trek up the Langden Valley this spring to see this enigmatic bird along with other 'upland specials' on offer, and I've seen and spoken to lots of happy people at the car park at this result though I've not yet been up there myself.

The Ring Ouzel is mainly restricted to the uplands and not well covered by breeding bird surveys. The species has always been less common in Ireland, it bred in most counties in the early 90's but by the mid/late-90's had decreased in range considerably and then only the most mountainous areas were occupied. The contractions of the species were cause for alarm and some dedicated surveys were undertaken in some selected regions and a population decline of >50% was revealed during the 1990's.

Breeding birds from GB and Ireland appear to depart in September to winter in SW France and NW Africa and there is a second peak of birds at coastal observatories in October, these are probably migrants originating in Fennoscandia where the population appears to be more stable. The reasons for the decline of the Ring Ouzel in this country are not fully understood, but studies have suggested that - for one thing - the extent of heather cover was important in the determination of site occupancy. Population declines were also noted two years after high spring rainfall in Morocco which was known to reduce juniper pollination the consequence of which 18 months later was the lack of abundance of the berries that form an important food source for the wintering Ring Ouzels.

Photograph by Neil Wright/BirdLife Malta.

Please take note of this image of a Marsh Harrier which appears to have had an extremely lucky escape from the hunters guns. Please link to the BirdLife Malta website from my sidebar on the left to keep up to date with this sickening and disastrous situation in Malta and in particular to read an Open Letter to the Prime Minister regarding attacks on conservation areas and the people connected.

As I write there is a report of Savi's Warbler in the Leighton Moss area, and site directions/instructions are available at Leighton Moss RSPB Reserve some of the staff of which are policing the area.


Warren Baker said...

I met with a lady last night ( business you understand!) and she told me she was going om holiday - to malta. I explained the situation, and she was horrified. I was surprised that she was totally unaware of the hunters there! i think the campain needs to be put out to the wider public somehow .

Pete Woodruff said...

Difficult and one I'd rather not get too deeply into on Birds2blog Warren bearing in mind my long lasting code of steering clear of controversy which has surprisingly held fast all this time and continues to do so.

So I refuse to name names but will venture into controversy just briefly and just this once....A rather BIG society - for example - prefers the softly softly touch which unfortunately works about as good as keeping your mouth shut altogether.