Unlike that of a typical teenager I love going to school and getting an education, I love learning new and fascinating things which blow the mind away, that in the future will be what I need to progress through life. Now studying for my A-Levels (History, Geology & BTEC Animal Management), I now spend as much time as I can in my 6 Form either in lesson being taught about the course I’ve chosen or in our “Directed Study” room preparing for the constant stream of Mocks & Exams which dominates school life. In any high stress environment it’s vital that you have a safe place to go to and let it all out of your system when things get too much to handle. With the way things are it’s the school environment that stresses people out and there either don’t turn up or drop out, however and funnily enough for me it’s attending education is my safe place, for one very special reason, birds.
A site of education such as a Primary School, 6 Form, College or University at first might not seem to have any potential birding aspect to it whats so ever, but in previous posts I’ve done about my love for the “Urban Misconception“, it’s all about taking your time and taking a look and not to dismissing any site, no matter how unattractive or undesirable it maybe. In the 7 years I’ve been at my High School/6 Form, I’ve managed to rack myself up a pretty decent list with a total of 115 species including the likes of Eurasian Hobby, Little Egret, Whimbrel, Hen & Western Marsh Harrier, Yellow-legged Gull, Common Greenshank, Short-eared Owl, Corn Bunting, Western Yellow Wagtail & Black-tailed Godwit that each autumn and spring pass over head whilst standing outside in the freezing cold on Fire Alarm drills, in flocks of several thousand as they alternate between their feeding & roosting sites. The joy of birding is that you can do it anytime, anywhere, expect the unexpected as birds have an uncanny ability to turn up where ever and whenever you’d least expect.
The 25th of April seemed like a pretty average Tuesday Week B for me; woke up at 6:30am to get the 437 to 6 Form to have a natter and grab a coffee with a few mates before heading to Directed Study and then walking out ten or so minutes into the lesson so Catharine (My SBF), and I could a good old chat. Everything was running like a normal day apart from the fact I had my camera (Canon 70D, Canon 5.6 400mm), in the bag ready for an after school trip down to Shrewsbury for a well over due lifer….Anyway the pair of us just walked out the room and headed down the stairs when I glanced out the window to see a Common Blackbird that looked to be bleached on the chest by the blazing sun. But it looked a bit too clear cut to be just bleaching of Common Blackbird and a split second after the discovery the bird then positioned it’s self out of the sunlight and into the shade were it gave it’s self up to one hell of a magnificent male RING OUZEL! As I’d thankfully brought my kit with me it case of stopping Catharine in her tracks and getting her eyes fixed on the bird whilst I set up the camera ready to fire away.
Catharine is if you haven’t assumed already a non-birder, but never the less & despite not even hearing of Ring Ouzel before she was rather egger to know what all the panic was about. Whilst I got myself a selection of records it was time to call the squad to see if they could view the bird from road running alongside the field; taking into account that this is a fulling function High School & 6 Form I was rather concerned for when it came to Break & Lunch (only an hour away), as it would give those wanting to catch a glimpse of this very showy individual only a small window and with Common Blackbirds, Mistle Thrush & Common Starling also being present in the same area as the Rouzel it would a case of hit or miss.
Period 1 in “Directed Study” was now at an end and Period 2 in Animal Management was about to start so an agonising hour wait began till I could pop over to see weather or not the Rouzel was still lingering about as I remember that one or two of the teacher’s “used” to be birder so thought why not, they were captivated when a pair of Short-eared Owls were hunting in the paddocks adjacent the 6 Form. Sure enough with the words Ring Ouzel mentioned a small crowd began to gather both in and out of the school grounds with Steve Williams, Richard Smith, Alan Hitchmough & Allan Conlin all managing to connect with the bird.
The bird remained for the entirety of the day roaming it’s favoured corner with the company of Mistle Thrush’s, Common Blackbirds & Starlings and when it came to lunch it was time to send out the last report before heading off to Shrewsbury to get myself a Black-crowned Night Heron…
Thanks for Ready,