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Winter Ravens

Lionel Kelleway travels to Shropshire where the raven is recovering from years of persecution by recolonising much of its old breeding areas, and where a large roost now exists.

13/18. The raven is both agile and majestic in flight but shrouded in mystery, superstition and folk law. How was it that our biggest member of the crow family, a bird once protected as an important scavenger in ancient times, was then persecuted almost to extinction in the British Isles, with less that 1000 pairs clinging onto a precarious future in few remote hills in upland Britain?

In this week's Living World, Lionel Kelleway travels to a remote part of Shropshire where thankfully the raven is making a remarkable comeback. Here on the Stiperstones National Nature Reserve he meets up with Leo Smith and Tom Wall from the Shropshire Raven Study Group, a group who have been studying these magnificent birds for nearly 20 years, and who have recorded the changes in the fortunes for these huge members of the crow family.

As they walk to an old raven nest in wet woodland, Lionel encounters many ravens on the wing. A raven's nest is easy to spot by its size, similar to that of an eagle, beautifully illustrating how easy it was to persecute these birds in the past.

But the tide has turned and now Shropshire is home to a remarkable wildlife spectacle, a raven roost. Travelling to a private mixed woodland Lionel is chorused by over 60 ravens wheeling and displaying in the gathering dusk. Remarkably, even in early November, the spectacular barrel rolls and shadow flight ravens are noted for when pairing up, is taking place. Nature on the wing at its very best.

Presented by Lionel Kelleway
Produced by Andrew Dawes.

Available now

22 minutes

Last on

Sun 5 Dec 2010 06:35


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Natural Histories

Natural Histories

Nature that has had a profound impact on human culture and society across history.