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Ring Ouzels in 2014

by Kendrick S. Hutchinson and Victor Fairbrother

[Ed: Ken Hutchinson has kindly allowed us to offer the 2014 report on Ring Ouzels in Rosedale and other parts of the North York Moors, written together with Victor Fairbrother. The report can be downloaded as a PDF of approx 1.4Mb.]

Male ring ouzel incubating eggs in exposed nest, Reeking Gill, Rosedale, 12th June 2014. (V. Fairbrother)

To give you a taste of the report here are the summary and introduction,,,,

Summary of 2014 Ring Ouzel Report

  1. First-arrival at East Mines on 21st March - equals earliest recorded
  2. Second highest record of breeding pairs with 21 territories recorded
  3. Favourable weather saw early start to breeding season
  4. Predation of early nests lowered annual productivity
  5. Overall nest productivity significantly below long-term average
  6. 56% of the eggs laid produced chicks that successfully left the nest
  7. Noticeably fewer pairs holding a late territory and having a second brood
  8. Nest located at 218 metres, the lowest elevation since the study began
  9. Nest aspect chart for all Rosedale nests shows a predominantly easterly trend


The 2014 survey was the 15th year in which a detailed study had been made of the ring ouzel Turdus torquatus torquatus (RZ) population in the North York Moors National Park. The findings of these studies were submitted to various bodies including the North York Moors National Park Authority, the RSPB Ring Ouzel Study Group, Natural England (York office) and the land-owners and head keepers of Spaunton and Rosedale estates.

The 2014 season marked 13 years of unbroken study in the Rosedale area; only the foot and mouth outbreak in 2001 and the subsequent closure of the moors prevented continuous study since the start of the project in 1999.

As in previous years the 2014 survey concentrated on the Rosedale area of the North York Moors; an area of around 25 sq/km. And as for the last few years, visits were made during late summer to locate ring ouzels prior to migration.

Climatic data showing both mean temperature and total rainfall are shown in chart form for the Spring period and the month of April; the key month for ring ouzel first-nests and eggs. In addition local data has been overlaid on charts showing the average April first-egg date for each year since 2009 in respect of April mean temperature and total rainfall.

For the first time a more detailed look at the late to early territory occupancy as well as nest aspect is considered. The considerable data that has been gathered over the last 15 years has now made a more detailed study of these aspects of the ring ouzel’s nesting behaviour possible.

Finally, as in previous years the north-west and east side of Rosedale was covered by Vic Fairbrother and the west side by Ken Hutchinson. Additional visits were also made to Esklets and Farndale east following reports of ring ouzel activity in these areas; the outcome being the location of four nests and much valuable nest data.

© Ken Hutchinson, Vic Fairbrother, Ryedale Natural History Society 2014

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