Those of you who are on Facebook will realise that this is a copy and paste from my post there, but I thought I'd post it here too, for those not on FB and I wasn't bloody well going to write it all again!
Up at three on Sunday morning, to do August's raven count. It was dry, mild and calm, so I was hopeful of a comfortable and easy count ... WRONG!As I drove up the valley, I began to encounter patches of valley fog and crossing the high point on my way over to Merthyr, there was hill fog too: Bugger!I was in the car and half way there, so I decided to give it a go anyway. As the ravens usually begin flying out when the pre dawn twilight is still just a glimmer, anything that reduces contrast can make the already difficult to see ravens completely invisible, so as I carried on to the roost, I hoped that they wouldn't start leaving until it was reasonably light.
|My counting spot, with a fog shrouded valley behind.|
|View up the slop towards the roost; somewhere in the fog.|
At the roost, the hill fog was patchy and although the temperatures were hovering around 7.50C, there was no breeze and it actually felt quite pleasant as I sat there, marvelling at the complete lack of bird sounds. The only sound, in fact, was the drone of petrol leaf blowers and a road sweeper coming from the centre of Aberdare town, over 1.5 miles away, as the council clear the debris from the Saturday night revels.The fog came and went, thickened and thinned, but was always there, at least in part, so it was with great relief that the ravens did indeed start leaving later, but even so, although I could see some to count, I knew I was missing others. Luckily, ravens have distinctively individual voices, so if all the members of a group are calling as they fly, it is possible to work out how many there are. Obviously, that only works for the ones that call; the the ones that don't, pass invisibly, unheeded and uncounted. I always make the count in the first half of the month, so that no two successive counts are too close together. This weekend was my first chance, but next weekend I will be unavailable, so this was my only chance this month and whatever total I got would have to stand, but qualified by the knowledge that inevitably, some birds would have been missed. As it turned out, I don't think I missed that many (probably no more than a dozen) and the total of 157, although the second lowest August count, actually continues a general downward trend.
It was interesting, while waiting for the ravens to start, to hear the single call of an oystercatcher overhead. Other birds noted were, in order of appearance: Buzzard, Robin, Mallard, Wren, Dunnock, Lesser Redpoll, Carrion Crow, Linnet, Tree Pipit, Whitethroat, Chiff Chaff, Reed Bunting, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipit, Wood Pigeon, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Stonechat.