Natural England - Ravens return to Ravensdale

Ravens return to Ravensdale

27 May 2013

For the first time in over 20 years, the birds for which Ravensdale is named have bred there successfully.

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Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve © Natural England

Two raven chicks have fledged from a nest on crags in Ravensdale, part of Natural England’s Derbyshire Dales National Nature Reserve. Although named for the bird, the dale has not seen a successful breeding attempt in over 20 years. The crag was closed to climbers through May to ensure that the nest was not disturbed; in this spring’s cold weather, even a short absence by an adult could have been fatal for the eggs or chicks. With the nest site not well hidden and vulnerable to even moderate disturbance, Natural England imposed a temporary access restriction on the crag. Natural England is delighted to announce the restriction has now been lifted.

Kevin Bull, Senior Reserve Manager at the site, said: “This is fantastic news for the Reserve and we’d like to thank the climbing community and all our visitors for their co-operation and patience while Ravensdale’s wild residents reared their young. Ravens are magnificent birds and it’s great that after an absence of two decades, the birds that have given Ravensdale Crags its name are once again gracing this special place with their aerial displays and deep, rich calls”.

Ravens are the largest corvid (members of the crow family) and in England they are most commonly found in upland areas in the north and southwest, although they will also nest on sea-cliffs. Ravens eat carrion and will also take small prey, such as shrews, with their massive bills. They are fiercely territorial and will drive even the biggest birds of prey out of their airspace. Unlike many corvids, ravens are strong flyers and their flight is often playful and acrobatic – especially in the early breeding season when rolls, tumbles and dives are incorporated. Ravens pair-up for life, so this could be the first season in which this pair has bred successfully.