Saturday, 4 June 2016

Record Breaking Ravens

I haven't had much sleep in the last 24 hours, so I'll keep this short. Last night, I went to the area of Llanwynno where the GBC holds its Nightjar evening. It's the second time I've been there this season and with almost the same result: one very mobile churring male and absolutely no evidence of the presence of a female. The first time, I put it down to the weather, which was far from ideal, but last night, conditions were pretty good and still just the single male. Had good views of Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, plus the ISS, so not a complete disappointment.

Having got to bed at 23:30, I was back up at 02:30, to do June's raven count. Conditions were mild, overcast and almost calm, which meant that the midges and mosquitoes were diabolical. Nothing seemed to be able to keep them off, and the ravens were counted through a dense cloud of the flipping things!

It was an strange sort of count, the ravens having begun leaving at 04:00 and seemingly doing things as normal; they then suddenly stopped coming at 04:15, the total then at 91, and then there was a twenty minute hiatus, towards the end of which I began to wonder whether the total was going to turn out to be the smallest ever for June. To my relief, just after 04:35, they began coming again and although there were no large groups (20 individuals or more), between then and 05:55, when it all finished, there was a steady stream of them, making this the longest count in the fourteen years I have been doing it.
Long it may have been and given my fears that it might turn out to be the lowest ever June count, I was eventually relieved to see the total reach a more normal 300, then 400, at which point I wondered whether it would surpass the previous roost record of 427, reached in September 2012. That was soon passed and on the total climbed and I began to hope it might reach the magic 500: no problem. The ravens just kept coming and the total kept rising until at 05:55 a single bird flew out and that appeared to be the final one; the total and amazing and very satisfying 577.

There was still a Grasshopper Warbler present, but it was reeling only fitfully, as had been one heard yesterday evening at the Llanwynno Nightjar site.  


  1. Amazing count under difficult conditions. I would not have been able to put up with the midge and mosquitoes for that length of time. I would have run off screaming just like that bearded nude we met the other night. Well done!

  2. Short of using a flame thrower (might cause some comment) I don't know what to use to keep the b****y things off. Last night and again this morning, they were much worse than what we experienced on Thursday night. They were even getting down my neck inside my shirt.
    I may have been hallucinating, but at one point, I though I heard a distant scream and saw the silhouette of a short, pot bellied character running over the moor, beard flapping in the slipstream and clothes in hand, pursued by a huge swarm of the little swines.

    Actually, the most difficult part of it was staying awake.

  3. dispite the midges, long may the Raven count continue - how long before you hit 4 figures?

  4. The forestry have given me notice that the plantation is to be felled sometime in the next two years, so probably never, unfortunately.