Strange Raven behaviour

A friend of mine who ,like me, spends a lot of time counting certain species of bird has been asked by an experienced birder if he could explain some strange behavioural sightings of Ravens in the Yorkshire Dales. Ravens are regular breeders in small numbers in the Dales but sightings like this of up to 12 birds in the air together is a strange one to us. Neither my friend or myself have seen 12 Ravens together in the UK so a couple of sightings like this is both exciting and very strange. We are not sure if they were passing through or a number of families that after breeding have grouped together. I wonder if any Forum members have come across anything like this before if so I would be interested in what circumstances.

Pete

Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • Morning Pete,
    We once saw ca 70 individuals together in a relatively dense flight, up in the Bernese Oberland.
    We were up at Wasserscheide (Gürnigel). It was September. We're up there most years around then for the southbound autumn migration, although we've yet to make it up there this year and its probably a bit late now..

    The site has resident Golden Eagles, and a growing population of Griffon Vultures.

    Here, it's generally pairs, and---at the right time of the year---what I take to be offspring. We had three over the house a few days ago. What I took to be a youngster, and a couple in extraordinarily close flight.

    Unusual activity---so, say, paragliders---seems to cause flocking here: I've seen a dozen birds close together on these occasions. And once I'd swear that breeders brought in local reinforcements for a rumble with Peregrines, who were breeding on the same cliffs, around 5 to 10 minutes' walk from where we live.

    Hope all that helps.
    Dave
  • Thanks for that info Dave, normally the only migration type movement we see from local Ravens is altitudinal movement in extreme weather conditions when they drop to lower more sheltered ground. These birds were sighted on the edge of Grouse moors and if they are local birds it could be a good sign that the shoots are not persecuting them. This may be one of those unexplained things that birds like to throw at us.
    Some interesting birds on your patch makes ours look tame at times

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    You're welcome Pete.

    Actually, we don't see migratory movement in Ravens (to my knowledge), but Wasserscheide is a main migration funnel for everything else, which is why we go there.

    Birds come up from Thunersee and the Brienzersee down below, pop over narrow saddle, and down the other side. You stand on the top of the saddle, on quite a narrow strip of land perhaps 400 m or so across, so you get good, long views of any raptors coming up.

    There are also resident Black Grouse (and perhaps Rakelhahn), and breeding Three-toed Woodpeckers (etc.), so it's nice to be there even on days when the passage birds are a bit... light.

    We do have a nice batch of avifauna here, but at times I'd give almost anything to see, say, an Oystercatcher. And since we moved up country, I find gulls (any) to be one of the most beautiful of sights. 

    As we're on Ravens, this year I observed (pre-breeding) a quite spectacular (although perhaps common for you) event. We're used to them tumbling, which we never tire of, but late winter 2020-21, I watched a couple free-fall together for around 120m, both spinning and rolling, before separating just shy of the canopy, breaking off in opposite directions, then finding each other once again. The extraordinary part of this is that they were never in physical contact with one another (I had a good view, with Swaro ELs); never did claw touch claw. It was like watching a black, feathered gyroscope fall out of the sky.

    Must of being doing it by accident though, because---as we all know---birds don't have emotions, and would never do it for the sheer thrill of it.  ;-)

    All the best - 

    Dave 

  • I have always wanted to visit one of the big raptor migration spots but I doubt if I will get there now

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    Wendy S said:
    I doubt if I will get there now

    Well, if you ever make it over here, you can count on us for soup, sandwiches and coffee.

  • Yeah, don't believe him Pete, I've been waiting about 2 and a half years for him to finish the guest suite!!
  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    PimperneBloke said:
    I've been waiting about 2 and a half years for him to finish the guest suite!!

    We've looked into having a second wood burner put in just for you, PB.

    Sorry it has taken so long. I think there has been a funny business going on these last 18 months or so... something about endemic or pandas or something (always helps if one lives abroad and never quite masters the local lingo).

  • In reply to Dave - CH:

    I haven't even finished burning the first wood yet, Dave, so hold your horses on a second one!

    Dave - CH said:
    never quite masters the local lingo

    I went north of the Watford Gap once... same issue  (just for you, Mike won't mind me borrowing it)

  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    Cheers Dave, my overseas travel problem nowadays is insurance, having had lung cancer 8 years ago and a couple of chronic problems to follow the travel insurance is out of this world even for UK. We were going on an organised holiday to Scotland and the company suggested cancellation insurance, Chris was quoted a few quid and after a long telephone conversation I was quoted £1200 , the holiday was only £1350 in total !! we declined mention the C word and the insurance just add 000s on

    Pete

    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    PimperneBloke said:
    I went north of the Watford Gap once... same issue

    Is that permitted?