It’s not long now to the shortest day and Ravens are already stirring on the cliffs. They mate for life and nest early. I know they’re thinking about it; croaking males repeatedly flip over in flight showing off flying skills and keeping more or less to the same stretch of cliff. Soon sticks will be carried in to refurbish last season’s nests and before the winter’s end they’ll probably have eggs.
I can go to several spots on the coast confident that I’ll find them. Nesting sites are possibly centuries old and never seem to vary. Each pair is known by its location and in strong wind, I walk west along the cliff path to look at my local pair. Prevailing westerly winds and heavy rains have flattened the bracken and few small birds stir. I dip down to the warmer rocky shore. The tide rules life down here and in winter I can always guarantee to find Rock Pipits eking out a living from the flotsam and splash zone.
The Ravens are busy, their wild croaks never far away. As I near the nesting ledge, I find them sitting peacefully on the grassy slope above the substantial remains of this year’s nest. Only when this close do I appreciate the difference in size with the diminutive Jackdaws. A pair of Choughs flies east, glinting in the feeble sunlight, they too dwarfed by the bulky Ravens. Man is the only enemy of Ravens and here on the remote cliffs they’re kings of all they survey.