Never let it be thought that, while my blog posts have recently become rather intermittent, that work on the hill has slowed down. My various projects continue apace, and the infrequent postings are because of the ongoing chaos associated with moving house, building what will become pens for grey partridges and wearing out an increasingly boisterous black labrador puppy. When things settle back into some sort of a routine, posts will resume their regularity.
In the meantime, I thought it was worth mentioning a strange incident which I saw yesterday morning and which has left me puzzled. Driving up the hill to try and fix the damage done to the woodcock strip by the recent storms, I cast my eye over my favourite blackcock’s usual haunt. From what the shepherd tells me, he is now lekking again, although I assume that it is still in its earliest stages and falls a long way short of any full display. I was disappointed to see that he wasn’t there, but assumed he was relaxing in some of the longer grass just out of sight.
Just as I started to pull away in the car, I spotted a raven flying lazily over the blackcock’s patch before flaring up like a crow when it sees a shotgun. In a second, the raven had dived out of the sky, vertically down into the long grass as if on the attack. With a clatter, the blacock revealed himself and flew away like a missile with the raven in hot pursuit. It was a bit of a one sided race, and the raven was soon lagging far behind as the blackcock switched his wingbeats to “intermittent” and cruised easily up to land on the top stones of a dyke on the horizon.
I can’t really think of a good explanation for this sudden and totally unprovoked attack, but if any readers can come up with a suggestion, I’d be interested to hear from them. It could be that the raven saw a similar sized black bird and, feeling a little hormonal, he tried to play the “territory” card? Do ravens kill other birds like raptors and could this guy have been trying his luck? Who knows?