Town Raven

Town Raven
In flight


This is a diary, or rather, field notes written up each day, with the latest entry at the top.

To get the full story, start at the bottom entry in the archive, and read upwards.
Then read the current diary entries from the bottom up as well.

Once you've got the full story, just visit and read the new story for the day!


Location Map

Location Map
This shows where we walk and meet the ravens
The yellow and pink squiggly lines are two walks we take. The yellow one is the one we usually do. The squigglyness indicates how Madame visits her several important sniffing check-points!
We stop several times to feed the ravens, and you can see where they come from.

If you right-click on the image and open it in a new tab, you can then zoom in to see more details.

Monday, 30 November 2009

Nov 30th

No rain! 
Not one drop of rain ... and the sun came out. 
We 'paid' for that with an icy wind straight from the Arctic, but as it wa dry, everybody was happy.
Even the daylight was cheering - we left the house at 7.30 a.m., and the brightness was as good as yesterday, nearly an hour later.

We went down the horse chestnut avenue because the fields were still quite wet and muddy - and I wanted to keep Madame clean and respectable for her visit to the vet later this morning.

There were some distant raven calls, but at first there was not one raven on the ground anywhere in Llandaff Fields. 
But further on, then there was one in the field next to the old quarries, so we ventured into that field, mud or no mud, to see if that was my bold raven.

It wasn't.
I threw him a couple of scraps, but he kept well away from us, very shy, and only took it when we had walked on for a good twenty yards. Madame was on her lead. A second raven joined him, also keeping well away from us - this also cannot have been my bold one.

Then, as we approached the little arboretum, two ravens came swooping down from the spinney, which is a bit further to our right when we walk this way.

They settled on the ground under the first horse chestnut in the ravens field - literally waiting for us. It was the young pair again, I can recognize them now. They were as skittish as always, and again, hopped closer to pick up a scrap of food only after we'd turned our backs. 
Still - they are actually coming closer. 
It was interesting to see how the strong wind ruffled the feathers on their heads - it looked a bit like hair blown about in the wind.

When I fed them in the enclosure, one scrap fell within a foot of the fence. I stepped back one step - and they tried to take this scrap, hopping to it, then back, then another little hop, back again - it was very interesting to watch them trying to build up their courage. One of them then hopped into the middle of the enclosure and did this displacement activity I have described before: it looks as if he's trying to lick some dew from the grass blades.

We went to the big field along the 'more-food'-way. One followed, but not immediately. He took his time, then the other came. They don't seem to be sure about the difference between these two directions. 
That, of course, is yet another indicator that they are not my first pair, with the bold raven. Those two had learned the difference!

It'll be an early start again tomorrow - so I'm resigned to feed this young pair, while still hoping for my bold raven to turn up at some time.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Sunday, Nov 29th

It rained again during the night, and in the morning. Therefore, light conditions were similar to yesterday, even though we left the house half an hour later. It was cold as well, and all the fields were so slippery with mud that most of us early dog walkers kept to the footpaths.

One single raven was poking holes in the big field, close to the horse chestnut avenue we again walked along. Otherwise, not one raven to be seen - but we did hear quite a few raven calls. Interestingly, they seemed to come from the direction of the big street with the shops, not from the playing fields.

As we neared the arboretum, there were some more raven calls - and then one raven swooped down to the corner of the ravens field, followed by his companion. They both came from the spinney, to our right .
I think they sat in one of the tall trees there, watching for us.

Again, it was the young pair. They still are really skittish when I throw the scraps, but do now come a bit closer. One of them looks as if he's got a bit of a 'hooked' beak: it seems to rise a tiny bit where it leaves the skull. 

They behaved again as I have described yesterday - diffident, waiting for us to turn our backs, not making holes as a matter of course - and not following us to the grassy patch in front of the sheds. We did leave along the 'no-more-food' way, again. 
As it was raining, the ravens did not make any croaks or soft noises, nor did the linger after we'd walked by the spinney. Who can blame them ...!

So - what next? I can't believe my bold raven has simply given up! 

Unfortunately, its impossible to walk close to the old quarries because of the dreadful conditions underfoot. Thats where i'd hope to pick him up again.
Also, it'll be an early start tomorrow as we've got to see the vet (routine visit, Madame is ok today!). 
Perhaps I'll just try and coach this young pair to become less distrustful, while waiting for better weather.

A word about Madame: she has become very good at sitting and waiting when I feed the ravens. I might try and see if she can do it off the lead when the ravens are in the open field. So far, I've let her off only when we're at the enclosures. 

Thats two projects for next week then ...!
Regarding the rain: the local paper says its been the sixth-wettest November on record ...

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Nov 28th

More rain overnight, but it stayed dry whilst we were out. Must have been because I wore waterproof trousers ...!
We left earlier than yesterday and got to the little arboretum shortly after 7.30 a.m. It was much lighter than yesterday. The ground was too sodden to walk on, and the trees stood in their own little private lakes. It was rather cold.

The first raven sat under the horse chestnuts at the corner of the ravens field, and looking around for the second, I saw him sit on the top of the derelict Victorian drinking fountain.

We got straight into the ravens field, and with the first scraps I saw that these were the 'young' pair. It is not so much their physical features, its their behaviour which is so different from my first pair. 
While they have become less skittish with each time we meet, they are still very wary and don't come closer than three yards unless we turn our backs. Also, they do not make holes as a routine, but rather - or so it looks to me - as an afterthought.

Most interestingly, while one raven does try and get more scraps than the other, he restricts himself to one or two extra scraps, and does not aim to get the whole lot, as my bold one does. He also does not snatch the extra scrap when he sees his companion aiming for it. 

We went through the usual routine, and left by the now familiar 'no-more-food'- way. The ravens followed us a bit in the open field, but did not venture onto the patch in front of the sheds. One flew up to sit on one of the small trees at the boundary of the spinney as we made our way along - but that was it.

So it does rather look as if the two pairs have a different schedule according to time/daylight. 
We shall confirm this by getting out later tomorrow, still using the walk to the small arboretum. 
I hope we can do this - Madame seems to be a bit under the weather this afternoon ...

Friday, 27 November 2009

Nov 27th

We left the house around 7.45 a.m. - quite late. However, it was still dark. There was no sun - just rain, and more rain, and then some! It was cold, with an icy breeze, and the ground was beyond sodden.
I had no hope to meet any ravens, even the seagulls were huddled on the ground and not sailing on the wind.

It was about 8 a.m. when we reached the top of the quarry field - again having gone the 'new' route.
No ravens.

As we crossed into the little arboretum, first one, then the second came down from the huge horse chestnuts which line the alley going between all those smaller fields. It was light enough for me to recognise my bold raven.

I fed them a few scraps there in the arboretum, then in the lower enclosure, more on the way to our enclosure and in there as well. Both ravens took off intermittently to hide the food in the holes they make in the open field.
Again, the bold raven scoffed the most, but the not-so-bold one now keeps waiting until the bold one flies off to hide his scraps, so he can get some food as well. It is quite funny to watch the bold one come swooping back at speed to snatch even the meagre bits given to the other one!

While we were at our enclosure, two ravens appeared from the direction of the tennis courts - my ravens took off to meet them in the air, and some squawking ensued!
They came back soon enough - but this time, the bold raven took off to hide his booty after every couple of scraps.
We went back the 'no-more-food'-way, and neither raven followed us.

Tomorrow - more rain predicted! - we'll have to go out a bit earlier. This means I can find out if my route determines which pair of ravens comes, or if it is the time.

If its the route - then I'd expect to see my bold raven again.
If its the time, then I'd expect to see the 'young' pair, not in the arboretum but in the ravens field.

By that time Madame will hopefully have dried out totally.
Her coat is still somewhat damp ...

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Nov 26th

Well - that was a bit of a dead loss!
We left at the crack of dawn, which is now about 7.15 a.m., and it was still dark because of the heavy rain clouds, which did bless us with brief, intermittent spells of rain. It also was pretty cold. Well, its November after all!

No ravens to be seen anywhere when we got into the park, the same way as yesterday. 
There were some calls coming from Pontcanna Fields. 
We trudged through the mud to the raven field, again using the same route as yesterday. 
No ravens.

When we arrived in the raven field, at the first enclosure, I could just about make out one of them sitting on top of one of the goal posts at the upper end of the rugby pitch, and then, in the gloom, I saw one at the foot of that pole. 

We walked up to our enclosure, and the ravens came to greet us. It was too dark to make out which pair they were, but after throwing a few scraps I was pretty sure they were the young pair. One of them did scoff most of the food - but neither went to hide it in holes in the open ground. They also were more timid than my ravens yesterday. 
While I was feeding them, two ravens flew over the raven field, from Pontcanna Field, towards the other side of Llandaff Fields. No reaction from this pair, though.

These ravens flying over us might have been my ravens ...

Having walked round the enclosure and starting to go back to the spinney, one raven flew onto one of the fence posts of the enclosure and made some lovely, soft groaks.
We left along the 'no-more-food' walk, and neither raven followed us.

Bas turned up as we came to the big field: lovely and full of running. He is truly a magnificent dog!

Plans for tomorrow: same walk as today and yesterday, but start much later, to get to the little arboretum about 8 a.m., when it is much lighter. 
Hopefully that is when  and where we'll meet my bold raven again!
Keep fingers crossed ...

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Nov 25th

Yes! I was right!
I found my bold raven!

We left the house earlier, around 7.30. It was light, some sun already out behind the clouds. During the night we had lots of very heavy rain, but it was dry when we came out. The wind was very strong (up to 30 mph) and it felt perishingly cold!

We used a different route into Llandaff Fields, which got us to the fields at the foot of the steep slope with the old quarries. No ravens anywhere, no raven calls. As we came to the far end of this field, one raven came and sat in the top branches of the oaks lining the steep path going up to Cardiff Road. Then another came, also sitting in that oak.
The first raven then flew down, as we got closer, and sat on the derelict stone drinking fountain. He watched. as we crossed into this field, which is really a small arboretum, and he then came to the ground, as did the other raven. I gave them a few scraps there and then - and saw that these were my ravens!

They followed us across into the ravens field, and sat on the fence posts of the first enclosure, where I haven't fed them at all. Giving some more scraps I noticed that my bold raven was rather diffident at first. We then went up to our original enclosure - but on the way, Archie, Duffy and Otis came bouncing up, so the ravens fled to our enclosure.

There, I reassured myself that these were indeed my ravens: their behaviour was as I've recorded below. The bold one, while still a bit diffident, scoffed as much as he could get, and flew off a few times to make his food-hiding holes in the open field. He made these in roughly the same areas as before.
Two ravens flew over us, quite high, but my ravens didn't bother looking up.

We went to the spinney the 'no-more-food'-way, and the bold raven followed us to the grassy patch in front of the Parks Dept shed. He had done just that before, the young pair never has.
He got some more scraps. Then he had a drink from the big puddle and got on with the rest of his day ...

I'm so glad I've found him again! I believe he was rather diffident to start with because he'd not seen me or got anything from me for quite a few days.
I also think that he and his companion are getting upset by the increasing number of lovely, bouncy dogs, who try to chase them. This is due to day light starting so much later now, and us dog walkers always get bunched together during these months.

Tomorrow, we'll get out earlier and use the same route as today. I hope my bold raven picks us up where he did this morning.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Nov 24th

Still autumn storms - very windy, ground is soggy and muddy. We went out late again, reaching the ravens field around 8 a.m. Lots of other dog walkers around. No raven calls, and no ravens. 

But then, as we came to the spinney on the footpath - one appeared, flying onto a branch of the small ash tree bordering the spinney - and then the other came, sitting on another branch of that tree. I could see straightaway that these were the 'young' ravens, and not my original ones.

We went into the ravens field - they seem to be a bit more adventurous in the open, coming closer, to within three feet, to pick up the scraps - but only when we turn our backs! 
In the enclosure, they again kept mostly away, and still shy away when I throw a scrap. This time, one of them started storing scraps in his crop - neither of them flew off to make holes in the ground to hide the food. As with the original pair, one goes for all and any scraps he can get, the other waits for what is left over.

They both followed us, at a distance, to the spinney, still timid and snatching the scraps only when we turned away. They did not follow us as we walked round the 'no-more-food' way.

I don't understand why my bold raven doesn't turn up. 

There are two possibilities: either they do prefer the earlier time, when it is darker, or they have gone somewhere else. 
Tomorrow, I shall find out if they are where I saw them originally, near the steep slope of what we think were old quarries. 
If they aren't there, I'll try to get out earlier again, checking both locations on consecutive days. 

Monday, 23 November 2009

Nov 23rd

Horrendous weather conditions - as predicted by the Met Office: very heavy rain during the night, exceedingly heavy showers all day, and gals, with bursts up to 60mph. The wind is howling round the house, Madame doesn't like it one bit! And the sirens of the fire engines keep howling in the distance ...

We did go out, dodging the squalls, and got to the ravens field by about 8 a.m. This time, we did not romp in the big field: it was by far too muddy and slithery underfoot. 
No ravens in sight, just a couple of seagulls sailing on the wind. A few raven calls, very distant.

Just as we passed the spinney, on the footpath, two ravens appeared, landing in the big field. Again - it was that young pair, not my bold one and his companion. 
They did follow us into the ravens field, and picking up the scraps on the way to enclosure I noted that one of them has become just a tad less timid. He still waits until we turn our back before he picks up the food, but now comes much closer. Again, in the enclosure, they both kept their distance. Again, neither took off to hide their scraps in a hole outside the enclosure.  And again, they started following us to the spinney much later, not immediately upon our turning in that direction from the enclosure. 

However - they must have learned the 'no-more-food' and 'still-some-food' walk routine!  its possible that they observed us and the other pair while we established this rule.

We went round the spinney by the tennis courts ('no-more-food'), and first the one, then the other flew up and sat in one of the young trees lining the spinney where we walked. They did not follow any further, and if I want to indulge in anthropomorphism, I'd say the ravens sat in that tree as if to say 'thanks -seeya tomorrow' ...

But what on earth happened to my bold raven? What is he up to? Where has he gone?
Will we ever find out?

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Nov 22nd

More puzzles. 

I have no idea what happened to my bold raven. He is around, I think - but again didn't come today for his feeding. Odd.

It was a dry start to the day, a bit cooler and more windy, but dry - and an impressive sunrise sky. We were at the top end of the big field around 7.45 - still to early, I must change the routine! Few raven calls from the distance, both from the old quarries and Pontcanna Fields, but no ravens to be seen. There were again quite a few seagulls swooping about.

Once we reached the top of the big field, two ravens appeared - timid and hesitant, so I concluded these were the young pair. I threw them a few scraps which they only took after Madame and I had moved away. 
They also get easily spooked by my throwing action, no matter how slowly and gently I do it. As we moved on to the raven field, they both fluffed themselves up, gave what looked like a couple of bows and croaked at the same time.

I gave them more scraps for that performance - and just then two more ravens swooped in. 
There was a bit of wing-flapping amongst them - and as last time, one raven walked off, then the other flew off. 

I'm beginning to think the two who came flying in are my ravens ...

The young two flew into the trees at the spinney before following us into the raven field. A group of dogwalkers started their round, so it was not surprising that these timid ravens flew straight into the enclosure. Walking round as usual, throwing scraps, the ravens seemed to be a bit less timid, but still waited for us to walk on a good few yards, with our backs turned, before they picked up the scraps. They did not store the in their crops, and did not fly off to make holes to hide them.

We went back to the big field the 'more-food' way, and after a while one raven did follow us into the big field. He got some more scraps - but the second raven, who appeared even later, was too timid to pick up any. 
Madame was back on her lead by then. She is getting very good now - it works best when she gets a scrap first, then the ravens, then her again. Mind, if, as today, the ravens don't dare to come as close as the bold one used to do, she'll go and pick that scrap up herself!

Later, when I went to get the papers (it was raining by then), one raven was searching for scraps in the gutters of this big road. I am reasonably sure it was my bold one, but he paid no attention to me - probably because of the utterly different surroundings.

Must get to the raven field much later! 
I am convinced the light of day plays a role in which ravens appear. My ravens seem to prefer a slightly later time, a slightly brighter light.

I miss my bold raven!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Nov 21st

How very odd! And how very puzzling ...

When we left the house, at about 7.30 a.m., it was mild with a slight drizzle. It was very cloudy, thus still much darker than yesterday.
There were hardly any raven calls, and no raven to be seen in the first field nor the big field. There were, however, many seagulls, singly flying over the big field. I had the impression that the seagulls were also waiting for food, having cottoned on to the raven feeding.

In the end, two ravens turned up at the top of the big field, but they were not mine. They were timid, and I thought they might have been the young pair, or even the two I scared so much . They didn't approach when I threw a couple of titbits - not until we'd crossed into the raven field. One, then the other followed, flying to sit on the branches of the big tree next to the spinney.

They did not come down into the open field - but one flew into the enclosure. Here, they waited until we were at the opposite side to pick up the scraps. Then they flew off straight away after taking them. Certainly - not my ravens! as these two flew into the trees at the allotment fence, two more turned up, all four tumbling about briefly and landing in the allotments.

What looked to be the same two timid ravens came back - and took off again after a couple more scraps. 

To make sure that these were not my ravens, I decided to go round the spinney the 'more-food' way. 
If these were not my ravens, none should follow, as they don't know anything about this routine. But there was a surprise!

One actually followed us, diffidently, after a brief while, flying, not walking. It then timidly took another scrap! Then this raven flew off - and there were no more ravens on this walk.

That, for me, means that the one who followed us must have been the timid one who usually is together with my bold one. The other might have been one of the two young ones. So - a change in paring up? 
If so - where was my bold raven? What happened to him? 
Also - do the increasingly dark mornings mean that the ravens are getting active a bit later every day?

We'll find out tomorrow. Its Sunday, so a later start is fine. and we've learned that rain doesn't faze the ravens. I just hope my bold raven comes back again!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Nov 20th

Oh joy! 
My ravens were back today - my hope was not misplaced.

Mind - I was very apprehensive. I heard only one raven call before we left the house, but many seagull screams. We left at the slightly later time of 7.45 a.m. It was dry and felt much milder than the last couple of days, because the winds had dropped overnight. Instead of storms we had a nice breeze. It was however quite overcast.

One lone raven was on the ground in the very first field we come to from the house. There were no calls.

As we got to the big field, one was sitting in a tree lining the footpath - and he did croak. This could have been the one we saw in the other field - he'd gone, I looked back to check. We then heard some more calls in the distance, coming from the direction of the ancient quarries at the boundary of Llandaff Fields.
We walked up, playing with the ball, but saw no ravens anywhere.

But then!
My ravens appeared, on the ground of the top of the big field. They were fine with Madame rushing up to them - and they did pick up the scraps I fed them. My bold raven was his usual self, coming towards me up to about three feet away, and he again grabbed the scraps I threw for the timid raven. He flew into on tree at the spinney as we crossed into the ravens field.

Both came to get more scraps while we walked to the enclosure - it was all as it used to be. I was so happy! And then this happened:
Heavy breathing behind me - and Bas had turned up, jumping up to try and lick my face! He then proceeded to chase the ravens, who flapped off for a few yards but did not fly into the trees.

Karen and I walked to the enclosure to do the usual feeding routine. Madame was on her lead, Bas was rushing about. The ravens, inside the enclosure, were a bit disturbed by this, and waited for us to walk away, for about ten yards, before they picked up the scraps. 
Interesting, that.
Karen then put Bas on his lead, which seemed to make the ravens less fearful.

The bold one followed us for a bit - but gave up when we walked round the spinney the 'no-more-food'-way.

I am so glad they came again, today. 
I don't know who the two ravens were yesterday. I assume they cannot have been 'mine', because I cannot imagine that they'd lose their fear, caused by the flash from my camera, just overnight.

Can't wait for tomorrow!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Nov 19th


A truly bad raven day - this is what happened:

We left the house about ten minutes earlier than yesterday. It was still blowing quite strongly, but it didn't rain, and while it was a bit chilly, the sun was peeping out from behind the clouds. 
So I took my camera with me. 

One solitary raven was in the very first field - not interested in us. We walked up to the big field, no ravens in sight, although there were some calls coming from Pontcanna Fields. Lots of seagulls flying above us, obviously enjoying the strong winds.

Then, I saw two ravens at the top of the big field. We were still quite some distance away. They did not approach us, and I wasn't sure which pair they were, 'my' ravens or the young ones. Madame ran up to them and they flapped away, but settled on the ground again, without coming closer. 

I then took a photo - and the flash scared them off. 
They did not come back for scraps, and they did not follow us into the ravens field.

As we slowly walked up to the enclosure, one raven flew into it - we were still quite a distance away. 
I walked round the fence. The second raven came - but neither of them approached me, and they waited to pick up the scraps until we were about ten yards away. Also, each flew off immediately after taking one scrap. 
We went back to the big field. One raven followed, but very warily and yards away - nothing like my bold raven. He made himself look very slim while he followed. He did not follow us round the spinney into the big field.

It was so sad - and my own stupid fault for not disengaging the autoflash. 

So - were these my ravens, totally scared and distrustful? Then I'll have to start again and regain their trust.

Or were these the young ones, equally scared? It could have been ...

It might perhaps have been the third pair which we saw the other day - distrustful, unused to us, and very scared but taking the scraps anyway. 
If so - what happened to my ravens?

I'm at a loss, and can only hope for better things tomorrow. 

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Nov 18th

We did leave the house 20 minutes later this morning.

To add interest, the weather was atrocious.
We had huge downpours in the night, so the ground was sodden. There were even some incipient lakes of standing water on the big field.
The storm, which had been forecast, did start in the early hours of this morning, was at full blast when we were out, and while the rain has stopped at the time of writing - mid-afternoon - it is still blowing hard.

To start with, there was one lone raven at the bottom of the rugby pitch adjoining the car park. Then, as we battled our way up the big field into the storm and driving rain, we saw two ravens sitting under a bench a bit further up that first rugby pitch.
As we reached the top of the big field - two ravens flew down onto the ground. Just as I expected, these were not the 'young' pair of yesterday morning, they were 'my' ravens.

I gave them a couple of scraps, then went into the ravens field, Madame meanwhile was off the lead and went into the spinney. As I stood under the trees adjoining the footpath, the bold raven flew onto a lowish branch and croaked at me.
We started walking up to the enclosure, intermittently feeding the ravens. I've now got a good training regime for Madame: a scrap each for the ravens, one for her. She's learning ...!

Three new observations:

1) They are doing fine in the rain and storm, and are brilliantly adept at balancing on the wind, even when low to the ground, trying to land. It looked wonderful.

2) Timidity is definitely not a sign of lacking intelligence. The timid raven flew into the enclosure, on its own, to wait for us there, while the bold one went off to hide his scraps in another hole. It did get a scrap before the bold one came swooping into the enclosure. I thought that was rather cunning.

3) Due to the fierce storm, one scrap got blown to the ground this side (my side) of the fence, about an inch away. We were too close for either raven to try and get it, and as I was walking on and round to the top of the enclosure, the bold one followed me on the inside. But - the timid one let us go and then picked that scrap up, stretching its neck under the bottom of the fence! How is that for intelligence!

Interestingly, the ravens felt quite safe inside the enclosure even when Archie and Duffy turned up. They are whippets/lurchers, and Archie was convinced the scraps were for him! He kept jumping up and pestering - but the ravens just flapped a bit to the middle of the enclosure.
When Archie and Duffy had given up, the ravens got another few scraps - as did Madame.

We walked round the 'no-more-food'-side of the spinney, to get back. The bold raven followed us a bit. As he got nothing, he landed to drink a bit from the huge rainwater puddle which always forms at that part of the park.

I had to leave my camera at home. It isn't waterproof, and the rain was being driven at us by the storm. Well, there's always the next day!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Nov 17th

Lots of rain overnight again - but dry this morning, and not too cold. Some clouds, sun coming out.

I'd heard some raven calls when we left the house, but there was not a one in sight in the park. 

Two turned up when I went to deposit Madame's little 'gift to nature'. The bin for that is at the top end of the big field. So these two ravens came and sat on the lower branches of the big trees lining the footpath. They came down and followed us as we crossed into the ravens field. Again one was less timid than the other - but I could see clearly now that these were not 'my' ravens: they were the timid pair I fed earlier this month. 
I think they are younger than my ravens, for no particular reason, that was just my impression.

We followed our usual routine, walking round the enclosure, and the ravens' behaviour showed clearly that they were not 'mine'. Very diffident, quite timid, not daring to get closer than two feet even behind the fence. 
Also, both flew off in between, not just to make holes for the food quite a distance away, but also up into the trees. My ravens don't do that any more.

We went round the 'still-food'-way into the big field. They did follow after a short time, got some more, and then scarpered as some labradoodles arrived. I also noticed that on the other side of the field a flock of black-headed gulls had started to appear. again, this is something which doesn't happen when my ravens are around.

I wonder if this pair shows up when we're out quite early.
We'll find out tomorrow - we shall leave the house a bit later!

Monday, 16 November 2009

Nov 16th, 2009

Yet more surprises today!

There had been a lot of rain during the night, the ground was exceedingly muddy. As we went out, about 7.15 a.m., rain threatened, but it was dry, grey, and even a bit windy. It was rather mild.
Not many dog walkers around - and a big flock of black-headed gulls were sitting at the top end of the big field.

We made our way up that field, playing a bit, and the seagulls took off.
Then my ravens appeared. I gave them a few scraps - Madame had some as well, but was again dead keen to chase the ravens off and get their scraps as well. At least she doesn't bark when she does that ...

And then: two more ravens appeared, from the direction of the toddlers' playground.
They joined my ravens - who were outraged!
There was quite a scrap, wings being flapped, some squawkings, and then the newcomers and what must have been my timid raven all assumed the 'begging' position, as if to soothe each other. They were facing each other - but what must have been my bold raven just walked off, as if to separate himself from this group.
They did not beg towards me - they did that amongst the three of them!

I left them to it, and Madame and I went into the ravens' field. Quickly, the bold one appeared, then the timid one - just these two. As Madame had decided she'd rather chase the ravens for the meat scraps than be an obedient dog, I put her on the lead. She did get rewards then, after I had thrown some scraps to the ravens.
A nice black dog appeared, with her owner - and she chased the ravens vigorously. They did flap off, but didn't fly into the trees.

So we had our usual routine, walking round the enclosure and throwing scraps into it. This time, the bold raven actually did hop close to the fence to pick up the scrap, rather than display that displacement behaviour. And of course, he managed to get most of the scraps again.

Before we walked off, he sat on one fence post, scraping his beak - that made a startling sound against the wood!

We walked round the spinney under the trees, crossing the footpath - and the ravens followed us into the big field. They got a few more scraps, to reinforce that this is the 'some-more-food'- way.

On our way home, walking towards he car park, I saw one raven in the middle of the big field, on his own. Another one was closer to where we walked, but still some distance away. Each had their beak in the ground.

Then two ravens flew in, coming from Pontcanna Fields. They stayed together and did not approach the two single ravens. Next, two more ravens flew in, also from Pontcanna Fields, joining the first two.
So - there are six ravens in this area. I have no idea how they are related - but at least now we know their number!

Nov 15th, 2009 (Sunday)

We were a bit late today, seeing that it was Sunday.
It was calm, sunny, a bit cooler than yesterday - and no wind!

We ran into Marianne and Billy again, and chatted a bit. Marianne told me that she saw me and the ravens the other day, with the ravens following me! While we chatted, we observed two of them flying from Pontcanna Fields over to the ravens' field, and I thought these must be 'mine'.

There were no calls, no squawks, it was all very quiet as we went to the top of the big field, Madame playing a bit with the ball.
Also - the ravens did not come to meet us at the top of the big field - nor were they present in the ravens' field when we crossed into it.

They eventually did turn up, however, and we had the usual feeding routine.
As noted yesterday, when I threw one scrap quite close to the fence, the bold raven first approached it, and then hopped back a bit and put his beak to the ground, seemingly licking the damp grass.

The timid raven did something new today: at one point it fluffed itself up and assumed the 'begging' posture which the juveniles adopt, just after they've flown their nest, when they still ask the parent birds to feed them.

The ravens now seem to feel quite secure inside the fenced-off plot: Bart appeared, the black, young Labradoodle, and Otty (a younger, chocolate Labradoodle), both coming up to us, to greet Madame and me. The ravens just hopped a bit towards the middle of the plot but did not fly off.

Also noteworthy: whilst I was feeding 'my' ravens in the plot, they suddenly stopped looking at me and flew onto the fence posts: quite high up a group of four birds flew over us, from the toddlers' playground/Pontcanna Fields, in a diagonal direction.
I couldn't make out what they were - too high up - but these were definitely not sea gulls or ducks or cormorants. Might have been ravens: too small a group for jackdaws or crows.

We went round the spinney at the tennis court side again - and it looks as if the ravens have indeed understood this 'signal'.
The bold one flew to sit on one of the smallish trees in the spinney, right next to where we walk, and cawed a few times. He did not follow us further, but looking back I saw him on the ground, drinking from the huge puddle in front of the changing rooms there.

Tomorrow I'll see if they follow us back to the big field, for more food, when we go round the spinney the other way.

Nov 14th, 2009

Well, that was a dead loss today, in regard to the weather!
Okay, it did rain in the night - but there was no storm: that came, for a few hours, in the late afternoon today.
England got a harsh battering, mind - but here in the Welsh capital things were acceptable for this time of year.

So no answer as to what ravens do in a storm.

However - as it was cold, I put my hood up, which is black. Still the ravens came, meeting us at the top of the big field.
That, of course, means any speculation about the role my hair colour plays in their recognition of me is now thrown out of the window, because Madame was there with me. So I'm up a stump here.
More thinking needed!

Two things happened today:
1) Madame, who so far has been happy to snuffle round the fence of the enclosure in the ravens' field, did a very naughty thing today!
She wriggled underneath the bottom of the little gate of that enclosure, to get into the pitch! The ravens flew off while I got her out with rank bribery. Bad Madame!

2) when the ravens had come back, some of the scraps I threw landed very close to the fence - about half a foot away. Even though I walked on a bit, they didn't dare come close to pick them up.
Instead, first the one, then the other displayed what can only be called displacement behaviour: they put their beaks to the grass and seemed to lick (yes, they have tongues) some of the raindrops from the grass.

They did this twice. I give them off-cuts from raw meat - not salted, cooked or interfered with in any way. I thought this was very interesting - I'll see if I can replicate this tomorrow.

We went back along the tennis court side of the spinney, the 'no-more-food' side. The bold raven flew onto the roof of the changing rooms there, and sat on the end of the roof,  towards the toddlers' playground, not the ravens' field end.
He fluffed up his feathers - but did not follow us any further.

If they really have grasped that us walking this way means feeding is finished, then they are indeed incredibly intelligent - we've done all this for less than a month!

Madame, while not quite as food-obsessed as Big Dog, is still far more anxious to get any scraps she can, regardless of me being cross with her, and regardless of being told 'down - stay'.
Aww - ravens more capable of learning new things than a Border Collie??? Unbelievable!

Now all these observations need to be repeated over the coming days and weeks, else its just some nice anecdotes.

Nov 13th, 2009

Another surprise today?

Oh yes! 
Two, in fact ...

In the first place, it was dry, and there was no gale - the weather forecasters got it wrong, again! 
Some rain bands had been moving across the country during the night, the ground was a bit muddy, but no weather horrors. 
At the time of writing this (mid-afternoon), it is raining a bit, but not hard. Mind - just now Madame looked out the back door and then looked at me - nope, she definitely did not want to go out at all!

In the second place, as soon as we got into the big field, I could hear a raven croaking to our left, from the horse chestnut avenue. This croaking seemed to accompany us as we went/strolled/played with the ball our way up to the top footpath. 

At the usual place there, right in front of the trees on the other side of the footpath and in front of the spinney, first one, then another raven appeared - and got scraps. Madame was very good at sitting next to me, waiting for her bit - but as the ravens seemed a bit diffident, she managed to rush off and give chase, getting their scraps as well as hers as the ravens flew off.

We then went into the ravens' field, and again the ravens followed us, getting their scrap or two. 

And then ...! I still can't believe it: two ravens came swooping down from the tennis-court side of the spinney, squawking and croaking loudly. The two on the ground flew up, and actually flew across the spinney back to where I couldn't see them any longer, while the two newcomers landed.

Turns out the two 'newcomers' were actually my ravens - the bold one with the pronounced bow ridge, and his companion!

So I obviously fed two different ravens first. Absent any leg rings, its very hard to distinguish them - they are very similar in size. I think the one diagnostic feature has to be the pronounced brow ridge of the bold raven - otherwise there is no way of keeping them apart.

All four (if I have fed two different lots, accidentally) show similar behaviour, being not keen to come too close to me when picking up a scrap and preferring to pick it up when I turn my back. I don't want to re-interpret my observations, but it might just be possible that I've fed this other pair at some stage. 
In the background of my memory lurks the observation that once or twice i vaguely wondered about the absence/presence of that brow ridge, without paying too much attention.
That attention I shall certainly pay now!

We went back along the tree-side of the spinney and the ravens followed us again and got a few more scraps. Then a cluster of dog walkers turend up, with the very bouncy whippets Archie and Dougie taking over practically all of the place. Oh, and Bart also came, saying hello to Madame. 

That was it for today - we'll see what the weather brings this evening and tonight and in the morning. The weather forecasters are besides themselves, thick windspeed arrows on the weather map, right over Cardiff, doom and gloom, but so far nothing is happening. 

It will be interesting to see, if there are gales, how the ravens cope: will it deter them? Will they still come?

Nov 12th, 2009

Today we had another little surprise!

I was wearing the red dog walking clothes, because some drizzle was predicted. Instead, it was dry, milder than the last few days, but grey and very much overcast.

Madame and I went into the big field first, spoke to another dog walker (well, she had a puppy ...!), and played with a ball. Then Madame went off on her own, snuffling about - and of course never brought the ball back! Bad Madame!

As we approached the top end of this, the big field, the bold raven appeared. He flew to sit on the top branches of one of the young ash trees in front of the spinney - that was more a twig, it waved around as he settled. And then he croaked three times, as if to say 'hello'!
After that, he flew down into the field, and his timid companion appeared then as well. I gave them a few scraps there, then moved into the ravens' field - both following.

I tried to get Madame to sit and wait, but she was so intent on getting a scrap as well - it wasn't working. More time needed here!
The ravens weren't too fussed, but did keep their distance.

Again, I walked round our enclosure, throwing them scraps from each side of the square. As usual now, the bold one got about three for every single one the timid raven managed to pick up. When I'd only got three scraps left, we turned to go round the spinney and back into the big field, along the trees lining the footpath.

But who should turn up? Bas! And Karen, of course.
We walked on a bit, Bas and Madame romping around. The ravens meanwhile had flown into the trees at the footpath, where they could observe us.
We went back a bit further, to the enclosure, and one came to pick up some scraps he'd hidden there earlier, while Bas was running round, and Madame was snuffling right next to the fence.

That was interesting, because this might mean that they do feel safe inside the enclosure, even when a big hound like Bas is romping about.

We went back to the car park then, and as more dog walkers appeared, the ravens did not follow us into the big field.

That greeting this morning (if that was what it was!) was really good!

The weather forecast for tomorrow and the weekend is horrendous - heavy rain and gales from the South West.
Madame and I will have to go out no matter what - I do wonder what the ravens will do ...

The recognition experiment! (Still Nov 11th, 2009)

But now - the crunch experiment!

I came back from the Cathedral - on the way there, having walked under the horse chestnuts, the ravens didn't approach me. 
Coming back, there were numerous couples and groups of threes with their numerous dogs walking round the ravens' field, in opposite directions to each other. 
I assumed therefore that this was not going to work.

But then I saw one raven fly onto a smallish tree in front of the Parks' Dept shed, this side of the spinney. Still - far too many people and dogs around, I thought ...

I was so wrong! 

As soon as I was mid-way between the top (our) and the bottom enclosure, he came swooping down, into the open field, and hopped closer. Now I was not wearing dog-walking clothes, but a nice long skirt and jacket ...

Well well well..! 

Mind - he made himself look very thin again, so he cannot have been that certain that it was me, his food source. However, he did not approach any of the other dog walkers, not even those who'd walked across this open field before I got there.

I threw him a tiny piece of cheese - he took it. Then the timid raven appeared as well. The two pieces of cheese I threw went straight into the bold raven, but as he hopped off to hide them, the timid one managed to get the third piece.
Then I walked to the enclosure, and fed them some more. 

So its me they recognise - that must be it. 
After all, Madame had been left at home, can't have a dog in the Cathedral! 

Also - they did not approach the group of three, one of whom was Val with Tilly, a nice, smallish Border Collie. and Val wore a red waterproof jacket. These three dog walkers had come past the spinney into the field while my raven was sitting on that tree, watching me come from the other direction - a direction he'd never seen me come from before. 

In addition, the dog walkers kept standing around for a few minutes, waiting for their various dogs to reappear from behind the bushes - so me standing still in the field cannot really have been a deciding factor.

As I knew all three ladies from other dog walks, we went off together and I told them all about it. We went to the big field, again the usual way, under the trees, and as we stood there, waiting for one of the terriers to come back, the bold raven flew towards us and sat on a lowish branch right above us. I wonder if he wanted some more food from me. Well, he is the bold one, after all!

This morning's experiment has been truly amazing - I wish I knew how the recognise me. Perhaps it really is the hair. So somehow, sometime in the next few days I'll have to cover that up and go on my own, without Madame. That should confirm it.

Nov 11th, 2009

Armistice Day:

More surprises!
We were just a bit late - 7.15 a.m., but it was glum, grey, cold and slightly drizzly: a morning one would prefer to stay indoors! 
Thus thought a lot of the usual dog walkers ...  

The ravens met us in the open bit of the ravens' field. Again, the bold one tried to scoff as much as he could, the timid one letting him. Madame still trying to chase them - i think I'll have to train her not to do so, with scraps as rewards, naturally.

We ended up walking round the enclosure, as usual now, ravens inside, us outside. However - as we were at the far end, another one came, flying above tree height, coming from the direction of the toddlers' playground and Pontcanna Fields. 
'My' ravens stopped what they were doing (i.e. watching me) and flapped onto  the fence posts, squawking. The other raven increased his height and flew off. 

Now I'm intrigued: will we see more ravens? Or will they keep to their territories?

Another thing I noticed is that while the ravens do now hop closer, they still prefer me turning my back to them so they can pick up the scraps. Hopping closer, they make themselves look rather slim when they are in the open field, or when they need to get to about two feet distance. 

This morning, a nice man with two teenage labs came round. I've seen him around sicne this summer, his labs are a male black and a golden female. They are nice, but boisterous. We chatted and walked round again - the ravens flew off. However, as we got back into the big field, and separated, the bold raven did approach again. we did, after all, go round the way under the trees ... Since Madame was off the lead and rootling around, I didn't feed him. I've noticed that Madame is now going to look for the holes they make to hide their scraps - and steal them, if she can. Bad Madame!

Nov 10th, 2009

The ravens had another surprise for us today!
We did manage to get out shortly after 7 a.m. It was cold, grey and drizzly - but more daylight, really, than the previous days.
A few other dog walkers in the distance, nothing to upset the ravens.
At the top of the big field, before crossing the path into the ravens' field - they were waiting for us again. Again, it was the timid one which came first. After I'd distributed a few scraps - also one to Madame! - what happened next was another jaw-dropping moment:

Two more ravens appeared, from the toddlers' playground! They kept well back, and the first two flapped at them a bit.
I didn't want to start a fight, nor did I want to encourage these new two by feeding them as well. So I walked off, taking the opportunity to give Leo a cuddle. He's a lovely, cream-coloured Labradoodle whom we've known since he was a puppy. He's on the lead, he had damaged a muscle in his hind leg.

I had turned my back on the ravens, all four of them, and after Leo and his dad walked off, Madame got into the spinney and I walked into the ravens' field on my own - followed by 'my' two ravens!
I kept to the usual feeding routine: a few scraps in the open field, some more into the fenced-off plot, thrown from each side of the square as we walk round. This time, I tried to see how close the ravens would dare to come to pick them up. 
I stood right next to the fence and threw the scrap in, about a foot away from me. That exercise was inconclusive however, as Madame was sniffing at the fence, right behind my back! It certainly made the ravens extra-cautious.

However, as soon as I stepped a couple of feet back and called Madame off, they hopped to it and scoffed what was there. Again, the timid one seems to wait for the bold one to feed first.
Walking back on the tennis court side of the spinney, the ravens followed, and when they got nothing, they flew up to sit on the shed roof. One actually ventured after us onto the grass next to the bowling green, but gave up as no food appeared. 
It was also, perhaps, a bit too close to the toddlers' playground - where I didn't see ravens this time, because Karen appeared, preceeded by a very happy, bouncing Bas! That Bas would scare any raven off. I roped Karen in, to tell me if any ravens approach her in Pontcanna Fields.
Well - that was an interesting morning!
Tomorrow we'll be out early again, to see what happens - and then I'll try and find out if they will come to me when I come back from the Cathedral, which is from the opposite direction. 
This will be a different time, more like mid-morning, and I'll obviously not be wearing my dog-walking clothes.

Nov 9th, 2009

'Tomorrow' is now today.

And there was another stunning twist to the ravens' tale.

We went out at 7 a.m. It was just light, it was quite cold (2 Centigrades). There was some fog, rather than just thin early morning mist - and we had the first grass frost.

Madame enjoyed rolling in the frosty grass, she loves to throw herself down and roll in it every five yards or so.
I didn't see any of the usual dog walkers this time - far too early for the time of year.

To my utter surprise, the ravens came swooping from the trees at the footpath, into the big field, as if to meet us! This time the timid one came first, the bold one later. 

How do I know which was which?
Because when I threw the first scraps, the first raven waited for the second, the bold one, to hop across and take it!

They followed us into the raven field - it was difficult to keep Madame quiet, so she got a few scraps as well. I prefer feeding them in the fenced-in plot, but they do like following us around in the open field as well, so I do give them some scraps.

I observed the same food-storing behaviour as before.
I also noted that even when they are behind the fence, they are still wary enough not to approach too closely, that would be about a couple of feet or less away from me. They also seem to prefer me turning my back on them, as if they'd rather pick up the scraps unobserved.

As we finished our walk, we could hear croaking and squawking coming from across the allotments, from Pontcanna Fields. Both ravens took off in that direction, and we walked towards the tennis-court side of the spinney. 
But then both ravens came swooping back, following us to the grassy patch this side of the Parks Dept. sheds. As we went on, they flew onto the shed roof - but didn't follow further.

Now I confess, I'm puzzled.

Are they waiting for me and Madame, personally, as it were? Or do they now think any person plus Border Collie is going to feed them? (Which wouldn't be so good ...!)
Do they prefer the earlier time - because there are fewer people and dogs around?

Two things I can do:
1) go out at 7 a.m. again, tomorrow - provided its not chucking it down with rain;
2) ask Marianne if she now has raven encounters as well - and ask Karen, too (she's got Bas). If they do - note what they have observed.

One other thing: Wednesday I'll be going to the Cathedral in the morning, after our walk. Its John's birthday, and I want to put some flowers on that spot in the Garden of Remembrance.
On the way back, I'll try and see if the ravens will come just for me: different time, no Madame ... that ought to help clear up what it is that they note, remember and that makes them come for scraps. I'll take a few scraps with me, and the camera - as always, weather permitting!

Nov 8th, 2009, Sunday

I got it wrong again for today!

Overslept again - its the longer darkness, and no birdsong to wake me up. It was not as cold as yesterday, a bit more cloudy perhaps, but again dry and no wind.

We were running a good 15 minutes late, but that mishap at least seems to have led to a tentative answer to the question of how the ravens recognise me.

As we got into the first part of Llandaff fields, Marianne and Billy came towards us from Pontcanna Fields. Marianne is a tad taller than I am - and she was wearing a red jacket. Two ravens appeared from Pontcanna Fields, and landed on the footpath in front of her! As she didn't do anything, they flew into the trees again, and then back to Pontcanna Fields. It was too far away for me to recognize them, but I thought this was quite significant: its the combination of a tall person with a Border Collie - dogs which are quite distinctive with their mostly black-and-white coats.

We walked on to the ravens' field. None there to wait for us, initially, but they did appear. Madame had a few tries at chasing them - but while they flapped off they did not fly up into the trees.

We had the now usual feeding routine, with me throwing bits into the fenced-off plot. Madame got a few titbits herself, the reason being that I might perhaps train her not to chase the ravens because of the food!

Again, the bold one tried to scoff evey piece he could lay his beak on. At one time he had four bits stored in his crop!

I've got to work on this feeding technique - its patently unfair on the other raven. He only gets a bit when the bold one flies of to cache his loot in the ground. On the other hand, the bold one seems to have learned that there is a second piece coming, which it is worth his while to wait for ...

This time, as we'd finished walking round the enclosure, both of them flew to sit on a fence post, and both croaked at me. After having got  a 'reward' for that performance, they both flew across to the other side and to the trees at the boundary to the allotments.

We went back round the spinney by the tenniscourts - the 'other' way - and the ravens did not follow this time.

So - more questions in regard to their following behaviour: did they not see us leave? 

I'm not sure they have already got that this is the 'no-more-food' exit, not after one example.

Tomorrow we can check out the part which is played by the time of day: I've got to be much earlier than the last few days, so it will be a bit darker - but, as always, weather permitting!

Nov 7th, 2009

And on the first day of this weekend ... the best-laid plans did indeed 'gang agley'! 

First, I overslept. Then, having decided that I'd therefore be on time, but dressed differently, things went totally out of control!

It was a rather cold morning, rather dense early morning mist low over the ground, but the sun was out.

In the car park, we ran into Alfie (a young Border Collie) and his dad, whom I hadn't seen for some time, so we had a chat. Couldn't do other, really.

Then, walking further into this first field, we met Marianne, and her Billy: another Border Collie, whom Madame adores, him being about 8 years old now. So - another chat, quite long. I had to tell her about the ravens ...

So there was my 'experiment': totally in tatters - being dressed differently, but also, unfortunately, being late!

Something else, not to do with the ravens: just befoe we got to the ravens' field, a skein of geese (Barnacle? Canada?) flew over us, 16 of them, in perfect wedge foramtion, honking away. Fantastic!

Into 'our' field, and no ravens.

Having walked up to the fenced-in plot however, they appeared. This time they came one after the other, hardly any time lag between their arrival. I fed them - it was just as yesterday.
I threw stuff into the enclosure, Madame being off her lead, and the bold raven tried to get each and everyone of these bits. It took some doing on my part to get one or two bits to the second raven.

A few times they nearly came to blows over the scraps, the first raven being determined to get all the food. This time, they did not hide the bits in the ground. I wonder if that was because they were more hungry (me being late and all) or because it was much colder than the days before?

Otherwise - again the storing of food in the crop was noticeable, and again the bold one croaked at me. He also has started to overtake me as I walked further along, landing in front of me, as if trying to bar my way.

Madame, off the lead, took a couple of runs at them. The first time, they took off onto the fence posts. The second time, they just flapped away for a few yards.

Also, I went round the spinney as usual - that is, around to the general footpath where the trees are, into the big field. Both followed. 

At least this is one thing I can try tomorrow: see if they'll learn that going round the spinney the other way (the tennis court side) means: 'no more food'.

Regarding my recognition experiment: coming late seems ok, as does wearing different clothes. I'll try and come early tomorrow, and perhaps I ought to consider wearing a woolly hat? Not because of the cold: because of covering my head, thus hiding my hair colour - which is sort of titian ...

I haven't had so much fun going out with Madame for ages!

As for taking photos: if its not raining, and not as cold as today, it ought to be possible! The ones I took earlier this year were taken with a zoom lens, thus I was keeping a good distance (about 50 yards at least) to them and they didn't mind me. We'll see

Nov 6th, 2009

Its getting really interesting now! 
Here is what happened today:

We left the house at 7.30 a.m. It was a bit gloomy, overcast, no sun - but no wind and no rain.
In the car park, there was one raven, rootling around on the ground in the fallen leaves. He took no notice of us, nor of any passing cyclists, but did hop off when one of the residents in our road opened his car with these new keys which switch the alarm off: flashing lights and klicks, that was too much!

Madame and I then went to the big field, to play around a bit, making our way to the back field with the fenced-in plots. This is our routine, whatever happens.
I had to pick up one of Madame's little deposits, and took them to the nearest waste bin, while she went off to the spinney.

When I'd crossed the footpath to get into 'our' field, first one, then the other raven came, swooping to sit on the lowest branches of the boundary trees, looking at me.

Now I was coming from a slightly different direction today, and we were quite some distance away from 'our' plot. Also, these trees were at the opposite end from those from which the ravens so far used to swoop down.

What about that, then!

As I went into the field proper, they came down to the ground and hopped close. One, the more dominant one, is definitely the one with that brow ridge. And as he was much less timid than yesterday, I am beginning to think its the same 'bold friend'.

They both were a bit scared when Madame tried to chase them - but in the end, they got on with following me and waiting for scraps. Again, the second raven was more timid, not just of me but also of the first raven. It was as if he was waiting for permission from that first one to feed.

And again I could see how the bold one stored one scrap in his crop, to fly off and stick this scrap into a hole in the ground, which he made with his beak. He did this a few times.
This all took place in the open field.

Then Jeff the chocolate lab came bouncing towards us, and the ravens flew onto the fence posts. After we had sorted ourselves, Madame and I went round this fenced-off plot and I threw more scraps into this plot. The ravens fed and followed us - and then the bold one croaked at me, loudly, facing me. I could see right into his open beak, and even saw his tongue.

We then went home, rounding the spinney the other way, that is round the side facing the tennis courts. The bold raven followed in the distance, but i did not give him any more food. I want to see if they learn that going round this way means feeding-time is over!

The next question, of course, is: have they formed an image of me & Madame?
If so - is the trigger the colour of my clothes? The dog-walking clothes I've been wearing all this autumn are in various shades of red.
Or is the trigger the time of day? 

We'll work this out over the next two days (weather permitting!), as its the weekend and many dogwalkers will have a lie-in!

Nov 5th, 2009

Guy Fawkes Day - thankfully the little b*stards don't play with fireworks at this time of day!
It was bright and nippy, some clouds, and we got to the 'raven'-field at the better, earlier time of 7.45.

We hadn't seen any ravens on the way there - and there were none in the field when we arrived. But - as soon as I was level (though a good ten yards away) with the fenced-in plot, one came swooping down from the trees at the wall. He sat on a fence post, and I thought it was my bold friend.

I started throwing the scraps of meat - but he was acting timid, like the one two days ago. Then the second raven came - also timid. They did follow me round the fenced-in plot, but very carefully and ready for take-off. Even when I threw some scraps into the fenced-off plot, which they took, they were wary.
Madame was running free - well, sniffing around the whole fence, but well away from them, doing her own thing (like looking for any scraps the ravens might have left!!).

But then ... as we were walking back, the first raven followed us again to the big field, round the spinney and across the footpath - a lone cyclist coming along was no deterrent. I gave him one of the pellets, again - and again he flew away as soon as some more dogwalkers came along, further down the path.

Now I wonder: is this raven, who twice now was so timid, the same as my bold one? He certainly looked like him when he sat on the fence post! I definitely thought it was him when I saw him sitting there. Is it possible that he's been getting too close to other people and got scared away? Or that some dog chased him, and he's now frightened?

I'm speculating because while his behaviour - swooping down from the trees as soon as I turn up, the following around - is similar to that of the bold one, his timidity is not.
More observations needed ...!

One other noteworthy point: this raven (if it is the same), or better: the raven who comes first to ask for food, so far has always got the most of the scraps. The other has been coming later, and doesn't try to get to the scraps when he sees this first raven hop towards them.
Its not related to being in the open field: the same happened when they were both in the fenced-off pitch. The second raven also looks generally slighter.

Oh - and from the photos, I'd say the first, 'bold' raven is definitely one I've photographed earlier this year. He's got what I can only describe as a 'brow-ridge'. It was clearly visible today, when he was in the fenced-off plot.

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