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).
It flew across from the south and sat 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.
Just above I could hear another ouzel calling
and then I saw him on the horizon, perched on the rocks. You can listen here.
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.
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.