Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Ravens on the Cliffs

I had to wait for a parcel to be delivered so my birding day didn’t start till nearly lunch time.  That was a bit frustrating as a water sun was shining and I was stuck in doors.  As it was so late I couldn’t go too  far so I went to look for the ravens on the cliffs.
As normal I parked at South Foreland Light house. On the cliff face by the light house 13 kittiwakes were on the nesting ledges with another  60-70 a little further north and sat on the sea.  I continued south to Fan Bay and sat on the northern edge scanning in all directions. Nothing.  A few gulls (herring, lesser and great black backed) cruised back and forth, about 20 cormorants were seen flying generally northish and a few fulmars exploring the cliff face but that was it. A couple of times I saw some corvids but I’m sure they were just carrion crows.
After an hour or so I gave up and walked around the depression towards Langdon Cliffs. Once on the other side I looked back north…….you’ve guessed it – the ravens were sitting where I had been sitting.
So back I went.
Again needless to say by the time I had got back to the north side they had disappeared again. I hadn’t seen them go but they were out of site for a short while due to the contours of the cliff tops. I didn’t have to wait long however as I saw one emerge from below where I was standing and fly north landing on a cliff face I could view.
I quickly hurried after it and fired off a few shots. I was then moving closer when the second one flew by and landed a little below the first.
They sat there for a few minutes then the lower one started scaling the cliff to get up to its partner. It was only then that I could hear them calling.
Scrambling up the cliff
I don’t find photographing birds against a chalk cliff face very easy (well nothing is easy it’s just that these are worse than normal) so I fired off quite a few shots at varying exposures and managed a few shots where some of the details of the birds can be seen.
The happy couple
After 10 minutes the birds took off and flew south disappearing around the cliff face towards Langdon Hole.
Whilst I was watching the ravens a peregrine had flown north down on the beach so I found a suitable vantage point to await it’s return but it didn’t.
Other birds seen whilst on the cliffs – jackdaws and a magpie. That’s all. There was nothing else around though I did hear a skylark.
I gave up at 3.00 but by 4.00 I was at Newdowns Farm hoping for a shot or two of the barn owl I’ve seen there a couple of occasions in the last week or so.
I hadn’t been there long and was scanning around when the bloody thing appeared along the top of the dyke only some 20 yrds away. A mad scramble and a few shots were managed as it moved away along the edge of the dyke.
Barn Owl
It hadn’t gone far when it turned about face and flew across the track and into the rough grass field between the track and Newdowns farm itself.
Turning back
From there it went back to the dyke/river past the poly tunnels.
Past the Poly tunnels
So great views but all the pictures I managed were very distant and most were of it flying away.

The way the day started – not being able to go out in the morning then no sign of the ravens for an hour  – I thought this blog would have been reflecting on how tough it is to bird everyday when there’s little if anything around. However given that the ravens turned up and I later saw the barn owl  I don’t think Martyn would swallow that line now.


  1. And i bet this coming weekend is wet!

  2. super post yes it going to rain again just like this week

  3. I agree with you steve, it is difficult to report daily, when not much is happening! you came good in the end though