With a reasonable chance of suitable weather, I decided to attempt November’s raven count this morning and as things turned out, apart from a shower and some hill fog, it proved to be okay.
Things didn’t go entirely to plan, however, as on parking the car, on Mynydd Aberdar and getting my stuff together, prior to walking down the parish road to the counting spot, I found that the dreaded birders’ nightmare had come true and I had left my bins in the house. Debating whether to give up and go home, I decided that as I was there, I might as well give it a try and if it failed for lack of the bins, I could hopefully try again.
As it was going to be naked eye only, I opted for a spot, a little higher up the road than I usually use, so that the ravens would pass right over me, the danger being that if they took a route further to the S.West, they might be lost against the darkness of the valley.
As I walked away from the car, at 06:10, I heard a raven almost overhead, but the sky was too dark for me to see it, so I counted it as one, though there may have been others with it and immediately after, I heard another calling, with just the hint of a response from an accompanying bird, so three confirmed.
At the chosen counting spot, I waited in silence for twenty minutes, before the next birds started flying over, thankful for the delay, which allowed the sky to lighten enough for me to see them. By 06:55, my total had reached 77, then a shower began and hill fog lowered onto the hill top. For around 15 minutes, while it rained and remained foggy, not a single raven flew out and I wondered whether they were all out, but as soon as the rain stopped and fog lifted, there was a mass exodus of around 50 birds, followed by several smaller groups, so that by 07:30, when it all finished, the total was 202, which is the second highest for November.
All through the count, I could hear redwings calling overhead and also fieldfares, which I at first thought were also overhead, but soon realised were calling from within the bracken on the hill slope around me. As the daylight increased, I could see them flying out of the bracken in small groups and heading off. I have seen this behaviour before, while counting the ravens from the old count point up on the moorland above.
I saw only one woodcock flying in to roost, but my attention was fixed to the sky and any low flying woodcock, hugging the ground would have been missed.
The count successfully completed, despite the lack of bins, U packed up and got away quickly, afraid that I might see something interesting in the distance that I would need the bins to identify.