Ravens are rapidly becoming my favourite birds. For starters they seem to be thriving in certain parts of the Peak District. In other words away from the Grouse Moors. They are clearly intelligent birds, and are able to recognise individual humans but can also learn their habits.
I visited one site with VP who goes there on a daily basis. The ravens seem know him, the fact that he feeds them seems to help cement the relationship.
They follow him around the site or sit on vantage points and wait for the food to be put out so that they can eat once we have gone a safe distance.
The site is home to other members of the corvid family. Jackdaws stick close to the cliffs and keep a wary eye out for the peregrine pair that we think may be nesting somewhere close by. Crows also turn up and being opportunistic try and get in on the free food that VP leaves.
According to VP in the winter the ravens are relaxed about sharing with the crows. But as soon as its nesting season and there are young, then the ravens benevolent attitude changes. No sharing. Under no circumstances.
VP was explaining this as he carefully placed a portion of the meat and offal on one of the regular posts. One of the ravens, a big male, VP’s favourite, was hugging the contours of the hill and gliding down behind a slight rise, keeping us in sight but maintaining a respectable distance.
We walked away for about twenty metres and turned round just as a crow breezed in from stage left, grabbed a beak full of meat and as it flew rapidly away swallowed it.
‘Watch this space’ VP uttered with a glint in his eye.
The raven outraged by this intrusion steamed in after the crow, which was by now heading erratically for the cliffs. But ravens can work in teams and soon there were three ravens mobbing the thieving crow. It climbed and dived but whatever it did the ravens had it covered. They kept this up for what seemed like minutes but was probably tens of seconds before driving the crow away into the distance.
Peace returned to the site and the ravens reestablished their own pecking order and feasted off the food that had been left.
Away in the distance, above the squabbling, a peregrine did a short flight around the fringes of the cliffs before disappearing into the cliff face. Was this a female just going for a short wing stretch before returning to a nest and a clutch of eggs?
TO BE CONTINUED.