As I hopped over the single wire fence, I already had in mind that I would head straight for the recently cleared area of the reversion field. This desecrated area was now seared and sun-dried, broken by the emerging bones of cut Gorse, like some kind of grassland graveyard. It was the 25th of April – Ouzel day. For the last three years this date or thereabouts, has marked the clockwork return of mountain blackbirds to our tract of mid-Norfolk heathland.
As I neared the scarified square, I spied a chunky thrush at mid-distance. Skittishly strutting, I could see by its pallidness that it was a Mistle Thrush. A pair reside here, although I’d not seen them for a little while. There was more movement behind it, in the same channel of docked scrub. I only had my binoculars, no scope, so moved myself to a me-sized hunk of gorse on the edge of the ‘desert’, so I could stealthily observe what was scurrying and feeding.
An Ouzel emerged, slate and scale, a white celestial crescent across its chest, lunar like the landscape which held it. Hold on. There was another, slightly to the left and darker, it’s white bib contrasting boldly against its pitch-dark body. Wait. There was a third now, to the right of the other two and back where the Mistle thrush was. This was a prime example of the cyclic calendars of nature and how we can nap ourselves against them. 25th April. Ouzel day.
I went back with two friends, the following day. All three were still present and we spent some time cautiously viewing them and enjoying their presence and presentations. A Woodlark was singing on the adjacent area of heath and we decided to go and bathe ourselves in one of the finest birdsongs. No sooner had we imbibed in some, than one of my associates remarked that they’d just heard a Firecrest sing from a stand of straggly conifers at the heath-edge.
I swore at him, as I was reluctant to believe it (I also had quite a bad inner-ear infection, so couldn’t hear it anyway) but then he had found it in the upper branches of a fir. Then I could hear it, the angry and agitated call of an angry and agitated-looking bird. This was no ordinary Firecrest though, it seemed brighter and bolder than any we’d seen before. Orange shades burning bright, like the fire which bore its name. Only the third patch record of this diminutive beauty, it was a little bit of patch magic.