Sunday, 3 April 2016

Goodbye you old ravers!

Not a brilliant photo but it served its purpose. When zoomed in this snap of a female Raven leaving her nest on the side of the Long Mynd in Shropshire (taken on 21st March 2016) clearly shows an unringed bird whilst a telescope view shortly after confirmed the male was unringed too. This is hardly unusual but at this same nest-site last year there were two colour-ringed adults, the two sole survivors of over 800 nestlings I'd colour-ringed during the 1990s in a project involving the Shropshire Raven Study Group. 

The male had been ringed just a few kilometres away on 16th April 1998 and the female slightly further away near Kempton on 15th April 1999. When last seen alive by Leo Smith on 14th March 2015 he was 17 years and 332 days old and she was 16 years and 333 days old.  The BTO longevity record for a British-ringed Raven is 17 years 11 months and 15 days held by a Raven ringed in Cumbria in 1982 and found dead near Keswick on 23rd April 2000. If the male at the Long Mynd nest had survived another season he might have taken the title. This is undoubtedly the oldest pair of wild Ravens ever recorded in Britain and that is some achievement in a sheep-rearing area with so much ill feeling towards them!! 

It is not impossible that one or other of these birds could still be alive, having been widowed and then ousted from its territory by a bonded pair - fingers crossed!

The Shropshire study found over 50 colour-ringed nestlings at their subsequent nest-sites and followed them all through to their replacement by un-ringed birds. With these last two colour-ringed adults now presumed dead it is time to put pen to paper and write it all up!

P.S. Just last week, whilst checking some Chough nests, I resighted a female Chough that was coming up to 20 years old and a male approaching 18. It is very pleasing to record such long life histories, but also extremely sad when they come to an end.


  1. Sad news, but just shows how priceless colour rings can be!!

    1. Absolutely, especially for the species you can't easily catch after they have fledged

  2. I remember sitting in your car, racing round the countryside from Raven nest to the next, a youngster Raven in the back puking & stinking the place out.
    You hardly blinked but I very nearly got to the puking stage..........
    Those were the days!

    1. Ha, ha, yes, they were, the problem is the car still smells the same but there's no Raven to blame it on anymore!!


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