It's the beginning of the month again and time for a raven count. I'd planned to do it Sunday morning, but the promised fine start followed by rain later, had by yesterday evening become rain from dawn. The problem with today was the forecast of fog and when I got to the roost at 05:30, there was a thin but worrying hill fog and above that a layer of Altocumulus stradiformis cloud. Thankfully, after ten minutes or so, the fog cleared and although it threatened a return to couple of times, it didn't affect the count.
I always treasure the peace and relative quiet of the time spent waiting for the ravens to start flying out and this morning I spent it looking at the stars visible through gaps in the diminishing cloud layer. A bright light that suddenly appeared on the S.East horizon had me wondering for a moment, before I realised it was the planet Venus, just risen. An encouraging sight after such a dark and stormy winter was the 'Summer Triangle' made up of the bright stars Deneb, in the tail of the constellation Cygnus, Vega in Lyra and Altair in Aquila. After skies dominated by the constellation that epitomises winter; Orion, the sight of the Summer Triangle was a reminder that better (hopefully) things are on their way.
The ravens started flying at 06:10 and the first few were heard not seen, so any that didn't call went uncounted, though I doubt I missed more than one or two. While counting there were two Stonechats calling constantly nearby and a single Woodcock flew past, close by.
The count was all over by 07:00 and the total was a very respectable (for March) 167. In fact, it was the largest ever March total for the roost, as can be seen in the chart below.
I returned to the car cold but relieved to have successfully done the raven count for the month.
Incidentally, for those wondering how this winter's rainfall compares with other recent ones locally, the chart below shows all the winters since I started keeping rainfall records.