ITS A DIARY !
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!
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.
Sunday, 28 February 2010
The predicted storm and rain had moved across Northern France and then up the English channel - so it was dry, rather cold and windy, but not bad at all. The sun was again invisible behind the clouds, but the songbirds were singing to each other well before sunrise. There were even a few raven calls, soft and far away.
I left the house at 7.20 a.m.. The ground was muddy and Llandaff Fields was empty of dog walkers, except for Alison and Jack-the-Westie. We walked to the top of the big field - no raven calls, not any ravens to be seen.
Then, I saw one sitting int he top branches of one of the trees in the spinney. He only came down to the ground after Alison and Jack had moved on towards the little arboretum - it was one of my young pair. His companion followed after he'd called.
More raven calls came from Pontcanna Fields, and the bold pair came flying in. While I was throwing scraps to these two pairs, the quarry pair arrived as well.
All ravens cawed to me as soon as they'd landed. That has not happened before.
Saturday, 27 February 2010
The high winds stormed over us yesterday afternoon, so it was dry and not windy early this morning, with a watery sun being obscured by clouds. Earlier, robins and blackbirds had been singing, and now the great tits have also started to join in. No raven calls, however.
I left the house at 7.25 a.m. and in Llandaff Fields not one raven was to be seen or heard. I assumed that they'd all flown into town, as last night there was a huge rugby match, so there must have been lots of left-over food for them.
I walked to the top of the big field, which had been colonised this morning by about forty black-headed seagulls. They flew up, and kept circling over my head as I was standing there. I walked on to the ravens field, thinking that none of my six ravens would turn up with that lot of seagulls overhead.
There were no ravens in the ravens field either - so I just went to the enclosure and threw some scraps into it. But then - my young pair arrived. They were very circumspect, keeping their distance, as usual, even in the enclosure. As I was turning away, one of them flew onto one of the fence posts and cawed repeatedly and very loudly.
I went back to the big field,, now without seagulls, and while the young pair had not followed me, the quarry pair turned up. As I threw them some scraps, the bold pair turned up - and then the young pair came as well.
At one point they all froze, didn't move at all - I looked up and saw a bird of prey fly high above us. I know there is a sparrow hawk about - it might have been him. He flew towards Pontcanna Fields, and as soon as he was out of sight, the ravens started moving again.
Friday, 26 February 2010
There was some light rain in the night and in the early morning, which did not prevent the robins from singing.
I left the house at 7.25 a.m., not having heard any raven calls. It was cold, damp, and cloudy - so no cheerful sunrise.
There were a few soft calls coming from my left as I walked to the big field, and I saw a pair of ravens on the ground, close to the Horse Chestnut Avenue, quite a distance away from the path I was on. I kept to the path to see if they'd follow anyway, but they did not.
When I got to the top of the big field, they appeared: my quarry pair. Next to come were the bold pair, then the young pair turned up. The flock of blackheaded seagulls had been chased up by a couple of dogs (dunno who they were, too far away), so the ravens waited for their scraps, which I duly gave them. They did not mind the seagulls circling low overhead. Those gulls were obviously looking to grab some of the scraps, but the ravens stood their ground, not making a move until they gulls went away.
But then, something happened which was unexpected, interesting, and totally new: crows appeared from Pontcanna Fields, and landed amongst the ravens.
Every time they tried to get a scrap, one or the other of the ravens flew at them, chasing them off. The ravens did not attack them, they just kept them off the food.
Thursday, 25 February 2010
It was mild again this morning, the robins and blackbirds were singing, but the sun was still hidden behind some dark clouds.
There had been no raven calls before I left the house at 7.30 a.m., but I did hear some when I got into the first field.
I walked up the big field, accompanied by more calls coming from the boundaries. In the middle of the field, I found the remnants of a food-waste bag which had been dragged there. I can tell you that neither ravens, nor seagulls and apparently urban foxes neither, like eating spring onions!
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
Today, for a change, it was mild - so mild, in fact, that I didn't need my gloves. There was a watery sun, the ground was muddy, and before dawn the robins and blackbirds were singing their hearts out.
There were only very faint raven calls, however.
I left the house at 7.35 a.m., but once I was in Llandaff Fields, not one raven called, not one raven appeared.
I went to the top of the big field, stopping several times on the way, standing around for a few minutes at the top of the big field: no, nothing doing!
Then I remembered: today is the day the rubbish gets collected! So the ravens have lots to eat, seeing that cats and foxes keep opening the bags with food waste for them.
How could I have forgotten ... this is not the first Wednesday my ravens went AWOL, and my scraps-offerings were spurned ...
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Another grey and cold winter morning: damp, icy wind, no sunrise to cheer one up.
The robins however did sing early in the morning, and there were a few raven calls.
I left the house at 7.20 a.m., and no raven calls came from from Llandaff Fields. There were no dog walkers around - but the quarry pair did spy me, and followed me to the top of the big field.
As soon as I stopped to get the scraps out of my pocket, the young pair came flying in, again from across the toddlers' playground, not bothered by the nearly twenty blackheaded seagulls sitting on the ground there.
One of the young pair assumed the juvenile food-begging position, wings spread wide on the ground, and made a soft, quorking noise.
Again, once the feeding was underway, the bold pair flew in from across the ravens field.
Monday, 22 February 2010
An icy wind blew from the North, there was a lot of rain in the night, and still a cold drizzle coming down when I left the house at 7.25 a.m. Earlier, not a single raven call, nor any bird songs were to be heard.
No ravens called in Llandaff Fields, and not one turned up as I got to the top of the big field. As it was pretty uncomfortable for me as well, I trudged home, all scraps still in my pocket.
Now, as i write, a watery sun has broken through the clouds - but I am waiting for people to turn up to do some work in the house, so I cannot go out again.
Bad luck, ravens - hopefully a better day tomorrow!
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Well, the weather didn't stay the same ... rain overnight and in the early hours of the morning. There were many robins singing to each other before dawn, but no raven calls.
I went out at 7.40 a.m., to a grey sky with no hint of sunrise. It was cold, but the rain quickly faded to a drizzle and then stopped by the time I had got to the top of the big field.
As yesterday, however, the quarry pair arrived as soon as I stood still, then the young pair came swooping in from over the toddlers' playground while I got the scraps out. I fed both pairs, who were skittish, with good reason: more blackheaded seagulls were circling over our heads.
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Again a frosty morning, dry but sunny. There were the early morning raven calls to be heard from Pontcanna Fields, but today, having left the house around 7.30 a.m., I could hear them as soon as I got into Llandaff Fields as well. They were coming from the boundaries.
I got into the big field, and in the middle, quite a bit away from the top, I stood still and turned around to look at the fabulous sun rise: the glowing, orange-golden sun just rising above the rooftops, what a sight!
As I turned back, the quarry pair was just swooshing in, landing a good six yards away.
I walked a bit further, to the top - and from the ravens field the young pair arrived.
I stood to get the scraps out of my pocket - and from over the toddlers' playground my bold pair came swooshing in!
Feeding them the usual way elicited the usual responses - but this time they all were a bit wary, even the bold pair. The reason was that one black-headed gull kept circling overhead, quite low - and even tried to get one of the scraps from the ground.
The bold raven moved towards that scrap and the seagull flew off, scrap-less.
There were only a very few dogs around, so the ravens all got their food without interruptions. There were no kerfuffles, neither between the pairs nor amongst themselves. They all looked as if they kept themselves to one patch - distant from the patches of the other two pairs, and trying not to encroach.
Walking back, pockets empty, it occurred to me that the ravens can see me very well now that sunrise is so much earlier, and that they must be on the look-out for me.
Also, I think they regard my standing still as a sign that the food distribution is imminent.
I shall try that again tomorrow, as the weather is predicted to stay the same, and see if my assumptions are correct.
Friday, 19 February 2010
What a change in the weather! We had snow yesterday, which did not stay on the ground, but the temperature dropped, and dropped further overnight. So this morning there was frost on the ground, the mud was frozen, and we had glorious sunshine to make up for the icy temperatures.
I left the house at 7.45 a.m., having heard some early, distant raven calls coming from Pontcanna Fields. There were no calls at first when I got into Llandaff Fields, and no ravens, but lots of dogs enjoying the bright morning.
The first calls came from the direction of the tennis courts, just as I got to the top of the big field.
Two ravens swooped towards me - my bold pair. As I fed them, some soft croaking came from behind my back: the quarry pair had arrived, keeping well away from the bold pair and from me - but happy to pick up the scraps I threw them. As I turned back to my bold pair, the young pair flew to the ground as well, joining the other four.
There was a brief scuffle between the young pair and the companion of the bold raven, then all settled to pick the scraps and feeding.
And then - Bas turned up. it is such a joy to see that big dog come rushing up to me.
The ravens were not so enthusiastic about Bas - the quarry pair took off immediately, while the other four moved away a bit, still on the ground.
I kept feeding them because Bas had rushed off to greet other dogs - but as he came back he chased the four ravens.
The young pair then also took off, not coming back, but the bold pair just flapped a few yards away. So they got some more scraps, Bas having chased the young pair into the ravens field.
Finally, they'd had enough to eat and since that big black house wolf came back from the spinney, they flew off over the tennis courts.
That was the end of the feeding for today, and Bas, Karen and I walked back down the big field.
Having all six ravens coming together again, I think there are two reasons for this:
one, the frost means they can't get at their food caches and are thus happy to eat as much as they can.
Two, the bright sunlight means that they all can see me coming, thus don't have to hang about in the gloom, waiting for one or the other raven to call.
It looks as if we'll have the same weather conditions tomorrow, so I can test my assumptions.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
It was just as dismal today as yesterday, with some fog thrown in for extra effect.
This morning, there were raven calls coming from Pontcanna Fields, and I heard some more, faintly, as I got into Llandaff Fields around 7.40 a.m.
The quarry pair cawed and flew in, to sit on the fence posts of the enclosure in the top part of the big field as soon as I approached. As I threw them their scraps, loud cawing came from the sycamore next to the spinney: one raven had observed what I was doing and it sounded as if he protested at being left out.
He came to the ground, his companion following - it was my bold raven! He walked up to me, got his scraps, pushed his companion off the scrap I threw to her, flew off to hide his loot, and came back again.
Meanwhile, the quarry pair had retreated back to where they came from. They don't seem to like mixing with the bold pair in the absence of the young pair.
Then Bas came hurtling up to me, and generally rushing about. The bold raven kept a wary eye on him but did not abandon his scraps. In the drizzle I saw that he had erected the feathers on his neck and shoulders - slightly, but well visible when he walked away from me.
As his companion was not so keen on being in the vicinity of a big black Bas, she and the bold raven flew off, leaving me, Bas and Karen to walk back in the rain, on the muddy playing fields.
More rain tomorrow ... or sleet ...
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
A dismal day - rain, and cold with it! No sun, and it felt dank and horrible when I left the house at 7.50 a.m.
There had been no raven calls earlier, and there were none when I got into Llandaff Fields.
I saw one raven in the distance, poking the ground in the middle of the big field - no idea who that was, he was too far away.
I kept looking into the tree tops to see if any raven was sitting there, watching for me - not one to be seen.
Finally, right under the big sycamore at the ravens field, there came a soft quorking sound: it was one of my young pair, and he looked utterly miserable in the rain!
He came down into the muddy field, then his companion appeared, but while they both took the scraps, they were skittish, waiting until I had turned away from them - and flew off as soon as I turned to walk back into the big field. They did not follow me there, nor did any other raven appear.
I blame the rain - hardly any dog walkers were out, nor any school children who might have put the ravens off.
I hope it will indeed clear up a bit tomorrow ...
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
It was raining, easing to drizzle, then strengthening to rain again as I left at the usual time of 7.30 a.m.
No raven calls earlier in the morning, but lots of robins singing. The sun was hidden behind the rain clouds.
No ravens until I came to the ravens field - and the young pair were the only ones who turned up. They picked the scraps in a desultory fashion, flying off quickly, probably because there were even more dogs around today. Well, it is half term, so people's time tables in regard to walking their dogs change.
So I went back home with a pocket full of scraps left.
I'll have to think about when to go and feed the ravens - even earlier, or quite a bit later.
Monday, 15 February 2010
It was a grey and damp morning, not too cold - which simply means the temperature, just above freezing, felt warmer because there was no wind.
There also was no sun when I left the house at 7.30 a.m.
Earlier, the robins and blackbirds were singing loudly, but no raven calls were to be heard.
Once I was in Llandaff Fields, no calls and no ravens - until I got well into the big field.
There, coming from the toddlers' playground, first one, then a second raven approached, the first one making a soft quorking sound as he walked towards me, then he displayed the juvenile begging position and cawed, still walking towards me. The second raven was quiet - but calls came from behind me: the quarry pair had also arrived and was walking towards me.
The first pair was my young pair, the second the quarry pair. Both pairs were very wary because there were a few dogs romping around, one a German wire-haired Pointer, six months old, called Milo, who came right up to me to say hello.
I managed to feed quite a few scraps to my ravens - but then Bas turned up, joyful and bouncy - and the ravens fled. I walked back with him and his 'mum' - so there was neither time nor opportunity to wait and see if my bold pair would appear.
I've got to work on my timing, I believe, and let the actual light conditions rather than the clock determine when I go out. Today looks like confirmation that the young pair and the quarry pair are watching for me while it is still darkish, the bold pair turning up when it is proper daylight.
We'll see what happens tomorrow.
Sunday, 14 February 2010
There were many raven calls early this morning, around 6.15 a.m., coming from Pontcanna Fields but sounding much closer than usual.
I left the house at 7.35 a.m. It was grey and clouds covered the sky, but their tops were tinged with pastel shades of dawn. It felt milder than the weather forecasters had predicted - still cold enough, mind! - and ravens called from the boundaries of Llandaff Fields.
No dogs were around, and at first no ravens either. One did turn up as I got to the enclosure at the top of the big field: one of the quarry pair. While I got the scraps of food out of my jacket pocket, the bold raven also turned up. Then both their companions appeared.
Once the bold raven had taken off with loads of food inside him, the young pair joined us. Interestingly, both the young and the quarry pair have now also split into one raven trying to get all the food, the other waiting. This has however not changed their degree of timidness, with the quarry pair still being the most timid.
Before the bold pair came back - his companion had again taken off after him, after picking up two scraps for herself - the young pair got themselves into a tussle. They both managed to pick up the same scrap, so there was a raven at each end of the little strip of fatty meat, tugging at it until it came apart in the middle. Both then took off.
(The scraps are meat off-cuts which I slice into strips of about 3/4 inch length and 1/8 inch width, btw.)
The bold pair came back for some more food while the other two pairs had flown away. Then Bart came bouncing up to me, and as he's big, the ravens fled. By that time I had fed them all the scraps I'd got anyway, so home I went.
It looks as of the quality of day light determines when and if the bold pair appears. The other two now seem to hang about, waiting for me to get to the top of the big field before they come. I suspect that for these ravens the presence or not of dogs also plays a part. The bold pair don't seem too fussed about dogs while they're still hungry. Once they've had quite a bit of food, they leave in any case.
We'll see how this works out tomorrow.
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Unfortunately, I seem to have caught the Saturday-morning lay-in-itis!
I left the house at 7.50 a.m. - really late, but Llandaff Fields hadn't yet invaded by dog walkers. The sun was up, although not visible behind the clouds, and it felt a bit milder than yesterday because the wind was coming from the West.
The top inch or so of the ground had thawed slightly - and the ravens I saw on the ground, in the middle of the big field, was poking it with his beak.
There were a few soft calls, and when I got to the ravens field, one of my young pair was waiting in the big sycamore. He cawed, came to the ground, got a scrap - and flew straight to the enclosure. He sat there on a fence post while I had to walk up there from the spinney. He did call loudly, but although there were what I can only assume were answering calls, no other raven turned up, at that time.
I walked back, having met Jack, the Westie, with Alison, and while we were walking towards the spinney, my bold raven turned up. He is the only one who lands on the ground facing me. He got a few scraps, but was a bit nervous of Jack, whom he'd not encountered in my company before.
Alison and I walked round the spinney the 'no more food' way, but on the grassy bit near the footpath, the bold raven came to the ground yet again, facing me. So of course I kept feeding him. His companion also appeared, again waiting patiently until my bold one had eaten some scraps, then filled his crop, then flew off. Then she took two scraps and went away as well.
I walked back through the big field, and in spite of the now expected flock of black-headed seagulls on my left, near the toddlers' playground, two ravens flew in when I was in the middle of the big field.
One was from the quarry pair, and one from the young pair. They cawed, got some scraps, keeping their distance - then the bold one came again.
The other two ravens retreated a bit, but there was no dust-up between the three, who got the rest of the scraps between them, the bold one taking off first, then the other two.
Hopefully I can get out earlier tomorrow - this lay-in was a bit shameful, really - and can investigate a bit more of which ravens turn up where, and why ...
Friday, 12 February 2010
It was as good as broad daylight when I left the house at 7.30 a.m. Still cold, but dry, and the wind hardly noticeable. The ground was frozen hard, but there was no frost on the grass, which looked dun-coloured and dead. More clounds than yesterday meant that the sun was not visible.
There were numerous raven calls coming from the boundaries of Llandaff Fields, and the first raven I saw was again checking out the waste bins and the food waste in the first field. He flew into the huge lime tree, eyeing me, but it was not one of 'my' ravens. I think he's the one I've seen going through the food waste bags, and he is probably also the one I saw a few days ago at the bottom of the Horse Chestnut Avenue near the big road. He flew off.
I walked to the ravens field, no other ravens to be seen - but lots of dogs! Must be the increasing daylight which gets them all out ... While they chased each other, the ravens preferred watching from the sycamore at the ravens field, some flying off again, not being happy with being chased by some juvenile spaniels, who hugely enjoyed doing just that.
In the end, there were only two coming to the ground, eventually. One was my bold raven, the other, I think, was one of the young pair. It is their behaviour which allows me to identify them. The bold raven's companion has taken to erecting her head feathers, and she is less shy that the one who came to the ground today.
The bold raven again scoffed as much as he could, eating quite a few scraps himself before storing the rest in his gullet and flying off. As the ground is frozen hard, none of the ravens can make their food-hiding holes quickly enough so that dogs won't get at them.
I walked back to the big field, only the bold raven following me briefly for a few mores craps - but the dog population increased even more, so he prudently vanished as well.
The ravens must have started to build their nests for this year's breeding season, I think. That could be the explanation for their coming singly and not in pairs. With the dawn now starting perceptibly earlier, and thus the dog walkers coming out earlier, it seems a good idea for me to do the same ... we'll see how that works out after the weekend - daylight or not, most people like their weekend lay-ins, thus I expect the park to be less populated tomorrow and Sunday, giving me the chance to meet my bold raven again.
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Well, the weather was the same - only more so! Unlike yesterday however, the arctic wind from the North had picked up considerably, and it was perishing!
The sunrise made up for that: stripes of dark grey, pale greenish gold, pale blue and a most impressive rose-orange had formed right across the sky, and by 8 a.m. the sun was visible over the rooftops.
I left the house at 7.30 a.m. The raven calls had been very faint in the early morning, when the stars were still dotted across the sky, and the robins also were sounding subdued. That might have been due to the cold winds.
The first raven was in the first field - right next to waste basket. Food remains had been dragged onto the frozen ground, and he was investigating. He took off as soon as I approached, so i don't know which one he was.
There were only a few raven calls coming from Pontcanna Fields, but no ravens until I got to the spinney. Then two ravens swooped in from the allotments, one sitting on the shed roof, the other on a tree right at the border of the spinney. The one on the roof made the usual cawing calls - the one on the tree gave me the lovely soft quorking noise.
They came to the ground as I approached the enclosure: it was my young pair. As they were feeding on the scraps in the enclosure, they called loudly, and first one, then a second raven came flying over, coming from Pontcanna Fields. The first one flew quite low, then both turned round and flew back.
Next, a seagull came, the sunlight colouring the underside of its wings.
Meanwhile, my young pair had taken off, so I went back towards the spinney. As I walked on, two ravens landed, one right in front of me: my bold pair!
Their behaviour is so unmistakeably different from the other two pairs: my bold one walking up to me, and scoffing everything I threw - no matter how hard I tried to throw some scraps behind his back and to his companion. She made no move to get at the scraps, just waiting patiently until the bold one finally took off. Again, as two days ago, he first ate whatever he got, then started to store the rest in his gullet.
Once he'd gone, his companion took two scraps and then flew off herself. Interestingly, she did not erect her head feathers today - I assume she didn't do this because there were no other ravens around.
Then Archie and Duffy bounced up as I was walking to the big field. I had a chat with their owners, and as we talked, one raven flew into the big sycamore. He squawked loudly after a minute, impatiently, and as we kept on talking about the cold weather, he did it again. - and then flew away.
Resuming my walk to the big field, I noticed that meanwhile the flock of black-headed seagulls had appeared and settled on the big field - and the raven had gone. No other ravens appeared as I made my way back.
With the weather predicted to stay cold and dry, I hope that I can entice my bold pair to come again tomorrow.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
That investigation failed ...
It was even colder than yesterday, and there was a watery sunshine when I left the house at the much later time of 7.50 a.m. The earlier raven calls had subsided, and not one raven was to be seen until I was well into the ravens field - practically up to the enclosure.
Then, the young pair arrived - from the top end of the small arboretum, opposite the ravens field. They must have given up on me. They did feed on the scraps, with their usual behaviour, but were not interested in following me back into the big field, where I arrived at the exact time as yesterday. They did give a couple of calls, but nothing exactly jubilant or attention-seeking.
Only one of the young pair turned up eventually in the big field - and the quarry pair had split, one on the ground in the middle of the big field, not bothering to come, the other sort of joining the single raven from the young pair.
Both took some scraps, but flew off after having taken a couple of them.
Of course - not a feather to be seen of the bold pair!
So - what happened?
It was not due to any dogs being around, nor due to school children marching across the big field.
The one reason - which I really should have remembered! - was that today the rubbish is being collected, so the streets in the area here have had their bags with food refuse out since last evening (that is the law ...)
Local cats, the urban fox living in the vicinity, and earlier this morning the seagulls have had a feast - and so did the ravens! I actually saw a couple scavenging, they flew up onto the roof tops pretty smartish as I approached, so I couldn't make out if it was one of my six, and if so, which one.
Thus - a failed investigation.
I shall try again tomorrow, since the weather (frost, cold, dry) is predicted to remain the same.
Tuesday, 9 February 2010
It was cold again, and the sky was mostly grey and gloomy when I left the house at 7.30 a.m. The wind came from the North, and it was decidedly nippy! Earlier, I had heard the robins, and some far-away raven calls coming from Pontcanna Fields.
That is where I went first this morning, to see if I could find my bold raven.
I did find a raven pair - but they were keeping well away, so those were definitely not my bold pair. But I was rewarded with a view of the dawn, the sky a dramatic orange-pink in the East.
I went back to the ravens field, and the young pair were waiting for me, sitting in the trees in the spinney. One made a soft cawing noise. Feeding them, first on the ground, then in the enclosure elicited the same behaviour from them as already described so many times.
I then went back to the big field, the young pair following me in their usual fashion. As soon as I got to the enclosure there, the quarry pair turned up as well, one of the birds still sporting that brown patch on his chest.
As both pairs don't approach the scraps unless my back is turned, it was difficult for me to see which one started a small kerfuffle. All four were at it, but it was not serious.
Then, from Pontcanna Fields, my bold pair arrived!
Interestingly, the quarry pair retreated immediately into the enclosure, and the young pair immediately assumed the juvenile begging posture, squawking softly and walking in this posture behind the bold pair.
As I threw the scraps to them, the bold raven walked straight up to me, again picking up what he could get. His companion meanwhile had the head feathers erected slightly. These feathers make her head look much bigger and darker.
Two schoolboys walked straight through the raven assembly, but the ravens hopped on a bit, to get further out of their way, but not flying off.
I got rid of all the scraps - the bold raven this time actually eating quite a few, and not storing them in his gullet.
Now the next question is: did the bold pair turn up because it has been so cold for the last four days, making it difficult to find food - or did they turn up because of the time of day? I was about half an hour later today than usual because of my visit to Pontcanna Fields.
I am inclined to believe that the time of day - or rather, the light conditions - are the main reason, but perhaps it is a combination of cold and daylight. Tomorrow I will go out later to find out. It will be even colder not just tomorrow but also the next few days, which will give me the opportunity to investigate.
Monday, 8 February 2010
Another winter day: grey, grim, cold - but even though the sky was covered in thick dark clouds, the lengthening daylight does hint at spring to come.
I left the house at 7.30 a.m., having heard raven calls from Pontcanna Fields, and more robins and blackbirds singing their hearts out.
As I was getting to the top of the big field, not having seen or heard a single raven, I was joined by Toby, the Border Collie, and his owner. we walked to the ravens field, chatting. One raven flew into the tall sycamore, and one, right in front of us, flew to sit on one of the fence posts at the 'usual' enclosure.
While we walked towards it, chatting, and while I kicked Toby's tennis ball, the first raven flew from the sycamore to the maple next to the tennis courts.
There, he made a few soft croaking sounds.
This is the second time he has done so, he seems to do this when I am with another dog walker and dog. I think he is trying to tell me that I should give him some food - I refrain from throwing scraps to the open ground when dogs like Toby or Bas are around, because they will scoff them.
We walked round the enclosure, I threw my scraps into it, and both ravens picked them up. It was my young pair, both again exhibiting the behaviour I have been describing at length.
As we walked back into the big field, closer to the Horse Chestnut Avenue than I usually go, one followed us, again first flying into the sycamore, then to the ground. He did get a couple of scraps as Toby had run off to greet Cookie, but flew off when Toby returned.
Today, I was able to track down the one raven who hangs about right at the entrance to Llandaff Fields. I was hoping that this might be my bold one. It was not ...
So more investigations needed, weather permitting. More cold and ice has been predicted for the coming days, and we don't know yet if it will engulf us here as well.
Sunday, 7 February 2010
A grey, cold and grim morning. Before I left the house at 7.30 a.m., I had heard soft raven calls coming from Pontcanna Fields, and Robins and Blackbirds singing. There were grey clouds all over, no hint of dawn sunlight. Also, as time went on, the icy wind from the East picked up and made the walk uncomfortable.
I went along the pink route (see area photo above) - no ravens, although I did hear them call. In the ravens field, one raven flew to sit in the big sycamore, the other went straight into the lower enclosure. The 'tree' raven came to the ground - one of my young pair. He got some scraps - again, he waited until I had turned my back and started to walk off before he came to pick them up. The raven in the lower enclosure flew straight into the upper, usual one, when I started to walk in that direction.
As now usual, both kept their distance, both picked up only two scraps before flying off.
And only one raven followed me to the top of the big field ('more food way'), flying into the sycamore, then onto the ground. He did give me a nice, soft quorking sound, sitting in the tree, though.After picking up a couple more scraps, he left and didn't come back.
One raven showed up when I was near the bottom of the big field - it might have been one of the quarry pair, but I can't be sure - I didn't see the brown patch on his chest.
I didn't find the bold pair - my suspicion that they might be in the field next to the road was unfounded.
The seagulls did circle above when I started out, but had settled on the ground by the time I got to the ravens field. So today their behaviour had no influence on the brief scrap-pickings by the ravens.
I now think that they are making these short foraging visits because they might have started to build nests, or at least might have started to help their parents with nest building, if they are last year's generation.
Corvids (that's ravens, crows, jackdaws, rooks and magpies) are known for having what is called 'helpers at the nest' in scientific literature. These are the previous generations who help their parents until they become sexually mature themselves - around the age of five.
It is still winter here - but without the snow, just the arctic wind.
I pray all of you keep safe, who are affected by 'snowmaggedon'!
Saturday, 6 February 2010
I did go out earlier, leaving the house at 7.05 a.m. It was cool, milder than yesterday, so no early morning mist. Also - no rain! The dawn was just starting, the robins were signing, and the waning half moon hung to my left, in the South West, as I got into Llandaff Fields. The light conditions were similar to those we encountered about six weeks agon, when Madame could still go out wiht me. Only then, we left after 7.30 a.m.
I had heard raven calls from Pontcanna Fields about 5.45 a.m. - and there were a few calls when I got into Llandaff fields. No ravens until I entered the ravens field - then one appeared in front of me, on the ground - he'd come from one of the rugby goal posts, where he had been sitting. His companion flew straight into the enclosure.
It was my young pair, still very skittish, keeping their distance, not moving until my back was turned. Interestingly, it was the turning away from them which made them feel braver - they came to pick up the scraps even if I had not moved an inch away.
Neither of them called, and I noticed that one of them only picked up scraps twice, then vanished.
I walked back to the top of the big field. Only one of them followed, first flying into one of the big sycamores at the footpath, then following on the ground. After picking up a couple of scraps, he also vanished.
The quarry pair did not turn up at this spot, close to the enclosure in the big field, as they used to do. They did however come when I was in the middle of the field - skittish, staying far away, but picking up a few scraps. Again, one of them flew off straight away, the other hung about for anotehr couple of scraps. That was the raven with the brown patch on his chest.
Then the first dog walkers appeared - so no more ravens.
However - there had not been any flocks of seagulls to disturb them, so I wonder if the gulls appear depending on the brightness of daylight. I also have not seen the bold pair.
If the weather holds for tomorrow, I may try and find out if they have changed their territory. I have my suspicions ...
Friday, 5 February 2010
It was not raining today, but it was cold. As I left at 7.45 a.m., to get to the ravens field at the same time as yesterday, there was a pale dawn - and a rather dense morning mist over Llandaff Fields. There was even a slight frost on the grass.
Although I had heard raven calls earlier, pre-dawn, there were none to be heard, nor any ravens to be seen, as I walked to the top of the big field.
Half-way there I was joined by Bas and Karen, Bas rushing about and rolling on the frosty grass, really enjoying himself. There were no other dogs about.
When we neared the spinney, one raven swooped to the big tree inside it, coming from the toddlers' playground. No calls.
Bas and Karen had to get back as we got half-way into the ravens field, and while we were saying good-bye, that single raven called from the next tree he had flown to. Getting impatient, perhaps?
So I went to the enclosure, threw the scraps, and the raven came into the enclosure. from his behaviour it was clear that this was one of my young pair. He was briefly joined by his companion - both keeping their distance, as seems now usual for them.
I went back to the big field, along the 'more food' way, and one of them followed - sort of. I noticed that when I stood to look at him, before throwing a scrap, he wiped his beak on the grass. He's been doing this before, and I am beginning to think that this is a displacement activity: he's not sure if he should stay for the food or fly off because he's scared.
He eventually came to the big field, but took off after collecting two scraps because the little blackheaded gulls were again cycling over, in a huge flock. The quarry pair had not turned up.
I went down the big field, towards home. The mist was still quite dense, but the sun had risen over the rooftops and was shining brightly.
In the middle of the field, I noticed two ravens, each sitting on the top of the rugby goal posts, like sentinels. One came down when I stopped, and approached when I threw some scraps. He made himself look very slim, looking scared - but it was one of the quarry pair: I recognised him because he had this pale brown patch on his chest which I had noticed before. He flew off however even before Cookie came bounding up from the bottom of the big field.
So - ravens are around, but not my bold pair. I think both the flock of seagulls and the beginning of the breeding season might have altered their behaviour. It is now much lighter than four weeks ago, so the change here may also play a part. I'll try and get out earlier tomorrow, to see what happens.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
Well, the rain hasn't stopped, it went on all night and this morning. At least it felt a bit milder than yesterday. With the thick grey clouds there was of course no glimpse of a dawn sky - but it was noticeably lighter when I left the house a 7.45 a.m.
There were raven calls earlier, coming from Pontcanna Fields, but they were out-called by the songs of the robins and blackbirds.
Once I was in the big field, I had not heard a single raven call at all. Nor had I seen one single raven, never mind a pair.
I made my way into the ravens field - no calls, and not one raven either! I walked all the way round the enclosure, throwing scraps - not one raven turned up. Walking back to the top of the big field and the enclosure there: still not one raven! And of course no raven calls.
Then I saw one pair of ravens in the middle of the big field - a place I'd not seen them before. I went up to them, slowly, but they took off. Then, I threw a couple of scraps - they only came back once I'd walked much further away, but didn't really look for these scraps.
First, Cally (nice black Lab), and then some more dogs turned up, one of the Bas - so that put a stop to any further raven encounters: the dogs were chasing each other all over the big field - it was lovely to watch.
Why were there no ravens today?
It can't have been because of dogs - I met the first one (Cally) towards the bottom end of the big field, none were in the ravens field. Cally had not been to the top of the big field ...
It can't have been flocks of seagulls - there were none.
It can't have been the time of day - this is when I usually come, plus/minus 15 minutes.
Was it the rain? But the ravens were there yesterday.
I am puzzled.
Tomorrow, the prediction is for no rain. I'll get to the ravens field at exactly the same time as today, then we'll see what is going on ...
Wednesday, 3 February 2010
Alas, the weather wasn't better ... The wind was less, but it rained and felt cold an uncomfortable. I left the house at 7.30 a.m., to a dark sky with no hint of dawn.
There were no raven calls, nor any ravens. Only when I got to the ravens field did one appear - coming from the clump of Horse Chestnuts again. One of the young pair, its companion again flying straight to the enclosure.
I walked round, throwing scraps for them - they always keep well away.
Back in the big field, the 'more food' way, they got scared off by Duffy, a young and bouncy whippet, who was dead keen on getting some of the scraps from my pocket.
That was too much for any of the ravens - the quarry pair didn't even put in an appearance.
But there was sufficient food for all ravens on the pavements: today, the rubbish gets collected, so the urban fox, who lives somewhere in Llandaff Fields, had ripped open all the food-refuse bags, contents spread all over the place. Good pickings for ravens.
Hopefully, the rain will have stopped by tomorrow ...
Tuesday, 2 February 2010
Picking up from where I left off, I went out today, at 7.25 a.m., to see what the ravens were up to.
The weather was terrible - not cold as such, but raining and blowing a penetrating gale from the West. So - no dawn to speak of.
Unsurprisingly, there were no ravens to be seen when I got to the big field, although I did hear some calls from the boundary to Pontcanna Fields.
The first raven I saw came from the clump of Horse Chestnuts at the corner of the avenue and the ravens field, flying to the sycamore next to the spinney. He came to the ground - one of my young pair, looking a bit bedraggled. His companion had flown to the enclosure. I fed him on the ground, and then both in the enclosure.
While we were thus engaged, they suddenly both stopped eating, cawed loudly and assumed this juvenile begging position.
The reason was that first one raven came flying across, circling back, and then a second appeared, both then flying off to the allotments. I wonder if that was my bold pair.
I went back to the big field, the 'more food' way. One raven followed me, as always first flying into the sycamore, then to the ground. As soon as we were both right on the field, the quarry pair turned up, skittish as always.
Both pairs suddenly took off. What might have scared them were two rather large flocks of little black-headed gulls, who first circled over us, then settled further down on the big field - literally spread across the whole field, from one footpath to the avenue.
And then Archie turned up, jumping up to greet me. He's a black, young and bouncy lurcher. So his owner, a nice young lady, and I went back out of the park, chatting about Madame.
Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow.
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