Nature Notes - Raven regulars

IT was years ago that I first started waffling on about a single raven being seen flying over Winter Hill and how one day we may see them occasionally closer to home in Wigan.

Well as many know ravens are now well and truly established in Wigan and during last year’s breeding season could be seen in Wigan town centre most days.

Well if you looked up to the skies they could be seen!

Well to top it all off a couple of weeks ago, when the woodlands were covered in a thick blanket of snow, I noticed something very big close to the top of one of our larch trees.

At first glance through the mist I thought it was a buzzard – but too black – my goodness it was only a raven – straight away the famous poem popped into my head:

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary,  Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,  While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,  As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.  “’Tis some visitor,” I muttered, “tapping at my chamber door Only this, and nothing more.”

It was not long before it spotted me looking up at it through the kitchen window and with a flap of its wings and a fall of snow from the larch tree it flew off over the wood.

I’ve kept my eye out for a return visit but no sign so it was probably a one off and I was so lucky to see it.

Adds something a bit special to my garden list of birds though!

With raven and buzzard added to the list in the last year I’m well and truly pleased having the gold crest as the smallest bird in Britain as a regular visitor.

And now the two giants to do the other side of the size factor I can’t think of anything bigger arriving.

Over the years I’ve had some unusual species in the garden to say the least – with a colleague we used to ring birds in the garden which turned up some surprises in the mist nets.

Over the 12 months we netted the garden we had several kingfishers turn up in the net – not a bird that you think of as a garden visitor and these were just passing through from the brook just in front of the cottage.

Amazing birds and really peaceful in the hand – even with that long sharp pointed beak they made no attempt to ‘peck’.

Not like great spotted woodpeckers that would regularly draw blood and the worst of all, believe it or not, was the tiny blue tit that would always manage to get their tiny beaks into the painful zone around nail and cuticle.

The most bizarre bird that just missed the garden and crash landed on the road just up from us was a Puffin!

Yes a puffin and it made the national news with its visit during a massive storm in the early eighties.

Wigan’s one and only record as far as I’m aware!