Wildlife Column: The Raven's remarkable return...      Â

In recent years the raven has staged a remarkable come-back and I hope this will continue. I was quite stunned recently to see and hear four ravens (maybe two pairs) circling around my house in Norton.

Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 13:27 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th December 2018, 13:33 pm
Sheffield weather expert Professor Ian Rotherham.

They were there at least twenty minutes or more. I later heard them again at Norton and also saw one high over Woodseats and Cherry Bank. Around my garden they were at around roof top height and seemed intent on dropping down into the woodland opposite. I think they were perhaps looking to roost in the nearby trees where we do get jackdaws, carrion crows and rooks. It is amazing to see these magnificent birds not only returning to the nearby Peak District but even to the city suburbs. This really is a remarkable comeback for a bird long extinct in our region.

Compared with the other members of the crow family the raven has huge dark wings, a long, diamond-shaped tail, and big, heavy bill and their calls are loud, with a harsh '˜pruk-pruk', '˜pronk-pronk'.

Raven in flight

These territorial birds exhibit spectacular flying displays over their breeding patch including individuals '˜tumbling' from on high with wings closed, or else doing victory rolls at high speed.

I saw a pair doing this over Curbar Edge just the other week and they are dramatic birds if evocative of darkness and bad omens too.

Our relationship with ravens has always been a little uneasy and they are linked with evil and misfortune.

This is a shame since the '˜cronking'call of the raven echoing across a valley is certainly amongst the most evocative natural sounds in the British uplands; audible maybe half a mile away.

The raven is one of the world's most intelligent and playful birds but is also associated with evil, death, and bad luck.

Ravens are richly represented in mythology and mix dark clownery and playful intelligence plus sombre images of death.

This latter was reinforced by being a carrion-eater with an unrivalled ability to find a rotting corpse or a recent death. This earned the raven a reputation for being a bird of serious ill-omen!