The Ring Ouzel: a view from the North York Moors


By Vic Fairbrother and Ken Hutchinson

Whittles Publishing, 2020

Pbk, 272pp; many colour photographs and illustrations, plus maps, diagrams, sonograms, etc.

ISBN 978-1-84995-435-8; £21.95 

For most of us the Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus is an uncommon passage bird, unexpectedly brightening a day’s birding in spring or autumn. It has become increasingly scarce as a breeding bird in the uplands and is now Red-listed. Britain’s easternmost population, and one of the most isolated, is in the North York Moors. This book describes the work of two individuals who have devoted huge amounts of time to studying Ring Ouzels in this area over more than two decades.

The book, as with the study itself, is clearly a labour of love. A lot of effort has gone into it and the result is a well-produced and enjoyable account. The writing is clear and accessible, and the presentation is good, with high-quality colour photos throughout, and attractive artwork by Jonathan Pomroy.

The text includes a lot of detail about nest observations within the study site including long, diary-style accounts. Perhaps not everyone will read these sections from start to finish, but they are enjoyable to browse, and they help to give a good feel for the study area and the way that the work has been conducted. They come into their own when recounting notable events, such as predation or human interference close to the nest; settle down for a picnic in the wrong place and, likely as not, either Vic or Ken will wander over for a friendly word.

Importantly, the authors have taken the time to set their work in context with what is already known. There are useful short chapters dealing with national population estimates, human impacts, the findings from other study areas, and the work of the Ring Ouzel Study Group. There are also chapters summarising what is known about communication, migration and wintering. It is not quite a full monograph; it is, after all, ‘a view from the North York Moors’. But it is an all-encompassing view, one that shows how this hard-won information adds to our understanding of the Ring Ouzel and its increasingly threatened place in our landscape. 

Ian Carter 

Issue 12
Start Page: 
Display Image: 

Stay at the forefront of British birding by taking out a subscription to British Birds.

Subscribe Now