27th Jan. Mild temperatures almost had me removing layers before I left for Prestwick Carr today. Once out on the Carr with Sam I was pleased that I’d left them on, the cold breeze and the darkening cloud perhaps foretelling of the storms to come.
As we walked down from the White Swan, House Sparrow song filled the air and on turning towards the Carr a Sparrowhawk flew overhead. A sizable flock of Common Gulls were in the field to the south. Once onto the bumpy road we found a sizable flock of Long-tailed Tits moving along the hedge and we were also soon listening to one of our target birds Willow Tit. The feeders placed along the hedge line were encouraging tits and finches to show themselves and we were surprised at the number of Willow Tits we saw. We stopped for lunch at the viewing platform and watched them at length. A Great Spotted Woodpecker had lifted from the feeders earlier as we passed and Mistle Thrush was heard. A flock of Fieldfare were seen on the ground to the south.
The red flags were up today so we didn’t get past the sentry box. Some may be dreaming of the red flag flying over the UK again come May 2015! This road was extremely quiet. On our return we turned right at the crossroad and watched the Lapwing and Golden Plover flocks before retracing our steps along the bumpy road. We picked up the call of Redwings and a flock of around forty were seen in flight over the fields.
A Grey Heron flew over the bumpy road prior to us taking a break to look northwards. In the far distance a Common Buzzard was seen in flight and in the same direction of sight but far closer we watched a pair of Stonechats displaying. As we watched a large corvid flew in and landed on a bush some distance away. Sam and I both immediately thought Raven? We watched this bird for some minutes as it perched in the bush and in certain lighting conditions there was a very pronounced blue sheen to the feathering and the bill looked large and rounded. The bird eventually flew off slowly over the woodland and by the length of its wings, large hand, deliberate slow wing beats and flight and sheer size (buzzard size), we were left in no doubt that this was a Raven. There was no call. Neither of us had been aware of reports of Raven in the area and thought this would be an unusual sighting. This was confirmed when we met Peter and discussed matters with him.
One thing I’d noticed when Raven was in flight that it appeared to be lightly coloured on the under-wing. Maybe a trick of the light in what was by then darkening light occasionally brightening as the sun broke through dark grey cloud, or maybe just worn plumage having this effect. Whatever, I think I may have this down as my/our sighting of January!