April ouzels

Every year I aim to do an early-morning walk up Tavy Cleave on western Dartmoor in search of ring ouzels.  This year I went on 28 April, but I have delayed writing about this until well after the breeding season so as not to endanger any which nested there.

I set off at about 6am from Lane Head.  I followed the path alongside the leat and soon after I rounded the bend into the cleave I could hear one calling, with its clear toots (three, sometimes four).

1 rounding the corner

Rounding the bend into Tavy Cleave

It flew across from the south and sat on a mossy rock.

2 ouzel on rock

Ouzel on a mossy rock

I also saw a cuckoo and whinchats in the places where I often see them.

Further up the valley, I came to the waterfall where Sylvia Sayer’s father, Richard Munday, proposed to her mother, Olive Burnard, in 1891.

2a waterfall

The romantic waterfall

Just above I could hear another ouzel calling

3 ouzel site

Ouzel calling-point

and then I saw him on the horizon, perched on the rocks.  You can listen here.

4 ouzel

Ouzel perched on the rock


On my way back down I saw the first ouzel calling from the top of a tree close to where he was before.  You can listen here.

5 ouzel in top of tree

The ouzel at the top of the tree in the foreground

It was a rewarding walk, and good to know that they were so active in the cleave.  Later reports from the RSPB indicate that two pairs nested in there this year.


About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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