Flora and fauna – Ouzels

ouzel 1In my book there are wild creatures, and there are WILD creatures.

The former include bluetits, rabbits, robins, blackbirds and so on…the sort we see every day, but the latter, they are the ones that haven’t seen much of humankind.

They spend most of their lives in wild, sometimes desolate places and scarper at the slightest disturbance.

Fieldfares and redwings, our winter-visiting thrushes, curlews, wheatears and other birds of the higher hills fall into this category, along with hares and mountain hares, stoats and weasels.

Here in new Mills we’re lucky enough to have a really wide range of habitats suitable for these WILD creatures, and a wonderful example of such a creature has recently arrived in the hills above the town. It’s called the ring ouzel.

This bird generally spends our winters in southern Europe and North Africa, coming here in April. It’s a type of thrush, jet black (male) with a dramatic white crescent on its breast (the female is a brown version of the same) and they arrive in small loose flocks before splitting into pairs for breeding.

Look for them on remote, rock-strewn hillsides above the town where there are tumbling stone walls with grassland nearby; like blackbirds they hunt out worms and insects in such places, and listen for their musical rasp of a call (I heard a couple whilst waiting for the Tour de France up on Longdendale last year!).
But keep your distance…remember they’re WILD.

By the way the other ‘ouzel’ we have is the water ouzel…better known as the dipper. I don’t know what ‘ouzel’ means but wonder if it has anything to do with the black and whiteness?

(FS)

 

Author: VNM

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1 Comment

  1. According to the OED ‘ouzel’ just means blackbird. Hence the qualification ‘ring’ or ‘water’ for other similar birds. But that doesn’t take you back to what the word itself may have originally meant.

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