Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Raven Mad.

Me: "So what shall we do today kids?"
Kid 1: "Splash!"
Kid 2: "Duck!"
Me: " OK so you want to add Raven to your life list."

Its worth pointing out that I don't need Raven for my life list, or my county list and whilst I haven't seen one this year if my kids hadn't asked I would not have dragged them 35 miles into the middle of Cheviots just for a year tick, as if.

So we headed off into the empty Northumbrian roads and all was going well till we got to Thropton and these yellow signs began to appear saying 'diversion' and 'road ahead closed'. Now call it arrogance or experience but I have a tendency to ignore these kind of signs as I have found many times in the past that they have been left up after work has finished or put out long before it starts. When we arrived at the bridge 1m from Alwinton to find it closed I turned the car shamefully and crept back to the diversion, luckily Hansel & Gretel in the back appeared not to notice, too busy looking for Raven I guess.
Eventually after a 10minute detour we crested a hill and our destination was in sight.

Alwinton, Northumberland.
Up the valley we found a strategic location hoping for a flyover Raven. Not wanting to let the day go to waste we practiced for the Junior Rock throwing Competition at the Alwinton Show.
Time passed and we failed to see a single bird never mind a Raven. Lunchtime was around the corner so we moved further up the valley to Wedders Leap and sat down for lunch. One or two false alarms and mis-identifications followed.

" A Raven" , (it was a Swallow).
All was not lost. Having read Ravens in Winter we knew that they were attracted by bait so we tried a Raven version of chumming that involved waving Ham Sandwiches specially prepared Raven bait in the air. Surprisingly the technique failed to work this time despite the best prepared bait based on a Hadoram Shirihai recipe.

'Chumming' for Ravens.

Its for the Ravens silly!
My two young ones weren't the only ones out learning about the world today. As we moved on deeper into the Northumberland wilds we happened across a couple of other youngsters just as intent on having a good time.

Dead easy, stretch and lift.

Don't forget the brakes....


Eventually deciding that it would be more fun if they had someone else to play with they went calling for the neighbours kids.

Coming out to play Rabbits?
We got to a high place and stopped awhile, searched the distant horizons for signs of Raven practiced our 'Kronk' calls and generally sat back in wonderment that less than an hour from home and there was almost no sign of the rest of humanity as far as the eye could see.
Edit: It was only when we arrived home we realised that the real reason we hadnt seen anyone else was that they were all in the hide at Cresswell watching a Semipalmated Sandpiper.

We did of course come across one or two other birds as we wandered and stared and threw rocks. Mostly youngsters out enjoying the summer as youngsters do.

Northern Wheatear.

Common Buzzard.

Northumbrian Meadow Pipit
Now these last two shots I believe are of another Common Buzzard either a) carrying a snake or lizard of some description or b) an escape with jesses. I think as we saw the bird twice about an hour apart that they are jesses unless they were having a good lizard catching day?

And Ravens, not a sniff.

1 comment:

abbey meadows said...

A few weeks ago I was up at Barrowburn and I almost made the same mistake but decided to turn back when I saw another sign at Flotterton reminding us of the road closure. The Ravens were at Quickening cote that day.