Friday, 5 June 2015

Ravens Again

Stop me if I'm boring you, but I did the June count this morning. Springing full of life and song, from my bed at three, I hastily dressed and drove to the top of Mynydd Aberdar, just in time to trot down the road to the place I count them from. Actually, my alarm hadn't gone off at the expected 02:30 (my fault), so it was all a big rush, made more so by getting stuck behind someone doing only 30 mph on the descent of the A465 into Merthyr. Despite all that, I got into position only five minutes later than intended and I quickly settled down, calmed by the songs of three Stonechats and a distant Skylark. Then it dawned on me that it was very mild and calm and I had forgotten my insect repellent; bugger!

After about 15 minutes, a distant Cuckoo was heard, down towards Abernant, but still no Ravens. The forecast gave a 10% chance of rain and I was eyeing the broken cloud warily when there were two Ravens flying silently past. A quick glance at my watch: 04:05. By now the dawn chorus had started and the small alder plantation by the ponds below me were a cacophony of thrush songs. A mosquito buzzed in my ear and I realised that the midges had started to attack too, so I rummaged in my pocket and thankfully found a thin, thermal baklava in there from the winter, which I donned, with some relief.

Settling down again, after that emergency, I began wondering where the rest of the Ravens could be, when a group of them appeared over the horizon and the count had begun in earnest.  They came in groups of all sizes and were emerging over the whole horizon, which had my head rotating like something possessed, but I managed to keep it together and after half an hour, the total was 251, which was okay, but I knew I had had larger June counts. By now it was heavily overcast and had become gloomier than when it started, however the birds kept coming and the count went on and on until finally, at 05:30, they all seem to have left and the total stood at 413, which is the second highest June total and the third highest ever for the roost.

By now the Linnets had woken up and were filling the gorse area with song. A second Cuckoo called from quite close by, but remained invisible, while a female was heard bubbling somewhere a little distance away. As I was leaving, a Grasshopper Warbler began reeling just to the S. East of the parish road, only to be answered by another to the North of the road. I didn't see either of them and couldn't hang about to try.


  1. alway a great read mark and amazed how early you get up to go .i still need Grasshopper Warbler and will give it a go one night after work next week.

  2. Agree with Martin the Raven count blog posts are always a good read.

  3. Mark, These are great. A true reflection on the effort put in to monitor this roost month in month out, and while the weather is usually better in the summer, the start times are so much earlier...

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, boys. I really don't mind outrageously early mornings, especially when rewarded by such a fantastic experience as this.
    I wonder if this total will be the peak for this year?