Taking advantage of a lull in the weather, I did my raven count at dawn, this morning. Notes from previous early February counts told me that somewhat unfathomably, they often choose this month to loose all reason and start flying out up to a full two hours before dawn, instead of the usual half an hour... don't ask me, I just count them!
At 06:00, as I arrived at the site and surveyed the darkness all around me, I began wondering whether over the years a sort of post January madness had caused me to commit serial watch misreadings, but that train of thought was abruptly derailed but the sound of a raven calling in the darkness... Oh great! I thought, through the gritted teeth of the mind and trudged off through the gale (slight exaggeration) to the place from which I count them.
After twenty minutes of sitting around in the surprisingly cold wind, wondering what sound nadgers make when they hit the ground, all the while hearing the occasional raven call from the direction of the roost, it stared kicking off when at 06:30 the first of them suddenly appeared overhead. I say appeared , but it was still so dark I could only hear them. Two were calling above, but there may have been more up there, invisible and silent. Between then and 07:00 I counted 12 ravens by sound alone and missed an unknown number of silent birds. From seven on I was able to see them, though still with more than usual difficulty and it wasn't until quarter past that the Stygian gloom relented sufficiently for me to count with the naked (watering) eye.
The last gasp of the count was a group of four birds that left at 07:35, the grand total for this count being 88, which is a fairly usual count for February.
I am looking forward to the March count as it is the first of spring. I just hope it isn't as difficult as today's and I can just sit back and enjoy it.