Using vivid extracts from field notebooks and profusely illustrated with photographs as well as paintings and sketches by wildlife artist Jonathan Pomroy, the reader is transported to the beautiful North York Moors National Park. We can share in the excitement as the first Ring Ouzels (a European member of the thrush family) of the year return from their winter quarters in North Africa, witness their courtship displays, the establishment of territories and the female ouzel painstakingly building her nest and laying eggs. This is followed by the monitoring of the hatching and fledging of chicks and the levels of predation – noted in order better to understand the productivity and sustainability of this vulnerable and isolated population.
To hear the song of the Ring Ouzel carrying for a surprising distance across the high moorland in the early morning is one of the many delights of upland Britain. The authors have recorded and analysed both simple and complex songs in their study area and, following comparison with recordings from Scotland, Derbyshire and the Yorkshire Dales, have confirmed the suspected presence of local dialects.
Crucially The Ring Ouzel is much more than a remarkable record of twenty years' fieldwork as it builds on earlier research elsewhere and relates local findings to the results of other current studies in England, Wales and Scotland. The contraction in distribution and number of Ring Ouzels breeding in Britain, the work of the Ring Ouzel Study Group, the introduction of conservation measures and the potential impact of climate change are all described. Attention is drawn to the first indications of Ring Ouzel decline in Switzerland.
As a migrant, the Ring Ouzel faces additional pressures and problems on passage and conditions in their wintering areas in The Ring Ouzel Mountains of Morocco are described. The importance of Britain as a stop-over and refuelling area for Fennoscandian birds on passage in Spring and Autumn is stressed. There is still much to learn and the early attempts to track Ring Ouzels on migration from Scotland to North Africa and back are described. This milestone publication brings the Ring Ouzel into sharp focus for the first time.
"This book is a welcome addition to our upland bird avifauna library. [...] In summary, this is a delightful little book written by two proper amateur field ornithologists and will appeal to all fieldworkers, regardless of their specialisms, as well as those people just interested in the species itself. [...] The book is complemented by some excellent artwork from Jonathan Pomroy whose lovely watercolour vignettes so accurately capture the essence or ‘jizz’ of the bird. The quality of photographs is high, and maps and graphs are clearly presented. The authors, Vic Fairbrother and Ken Hutchinson, should be proud of this written culmination of twenty years of their outstanding detailed and intensive fieldwork. [...]"
– Steve Davies, Ibis
"[...] This is an invaluable book on a very important, but relatively little-known, species by two remarkably enthusiastic fieldworkers in a part of the country renowned for its beauty. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I have."
– Extract from Foreword by Chris Rollie, RSPB Ring Ouzel Plan Manager, Chair of the UK Ring Ouzel Study Group