Today John. Pete and myself headed over the border into Berkshire. The main target for the trip was to look for the overwintering Ring Ouzel on the Ridgeway. After a slow start on the M4 we were soon onto the pleasant country lanes. Heading through Farnborough and onto West Ilsley before ascending to the Ridgeway at Bury Down. Although we knew the bird shouldn’t be far from the car park we kitted up with wellies, coats and scopes before heading off east along the track. Although I am very much a supporter of allowing vehicular access on the Ridgeway as is on the Wiltshire section I have to admit that this stretch, where all but agricultural vehicles are banned is much easier to walk. A relatively smooth grassy track rather than the rutted deep puddled sections that are more local to me. Anyway off we headed and within a hundred yards or so in the first bushes we found the Ouzel. It was perched in a berry laden bush and unlike our usual spring and autumn migrants didn’t fly off as we approached. We were able to stand and watch it for a few minutes before it dropped to the ground and then flew along the Ridgeway to the next set of bushes. Satisfied with the views we headed back to the car discussing where to go next.
The decision was made and we drove down the A34 and then east on the M4 heading for Bray and the Ring-necked Duck that I saw in January. The car was parked near to the sailing club and a shortish muddy walk took us to the motorway end of the lake where the duck was soon located in its usual favoured corner. Back to the car again and a quick check on Berkshire Birds showed that a Glaucous Gull had again been seen at Knowl Hill Landfill which was not far away. We needed to ask a couple of people for directions but were soon parked up and out the car again. Following a wooded track we strained for a view of the site. A gap in the fence was found and we were able to get a restricted view of a number of gulls. John wandered on a little further and found a better viewing location. Unfortunately before we could set up there all of the gulls flew leaving us with just a working landfill site to watch. This we did for the next hour frustrated by the gulls that were flying around but not coming back to ground. Also here were a number of Red Kites checking out the tip. Having been joined by a Berks birder who was on his fifth unsuccessful visit to the site we gave it a few more minutes before deciding to call it a day. So it was a shame about the gull but you can’t get them all and it had been another great trip out.