It's that time of year when you can leave the house to do a bit of birding and reasonably expect to find new migrants dropping in all over the place, so I spent the weekend looking for some of those new arrivals.
On Saturday, a male Ring Ouzel was reported at Warren Hills, only a couple of minutes' drive from my house, so I headed over there, only to find out from another birder that we were both ten minutes too late. It hadn't been seen flying off, but it seemed to have disappeared behind a distant, and inaccessible, bush. I spent a while looking, then walked round to Charnwood Lodge reserve, to see if it was visible looking up the hill.
It wasn't. I scanned field after field, hope to find it sheltering from the now rather strong wind behind a drystone wall, but no luck. Turning for home, I walked past the point where a little stream goes under another stone wall and into the wood, and peered over, as I always do (I live in hope of finding a Dipper there). To my surprise, a pair of Mandarin were on the other side, in a tiny pool. They looked as startled as I was, and promptly flew away into the trees.
There are a few (maybe 30) of these absurdly ornate ducks in my area, but usually I see them only at long range at one of the reservoirs, so to see the male close up was a treat. More than made up for missing out on some of those migrants. And there's still plenty of time for Ouzels...