Of all the beings that have paid attention to me none have impacted my life as much as Raven.
On my fiftieth birthday I wrote an article that explored a memorable animal encounter from each of my five decades and Raven didn't feature in any of them. This particular bird is a relative newcomer to my life.
My first remembered encounter was of a pair in a meadow near Silverdale, close to Morecambe Bay. I studied them through my binoculars, quite awestruck by their presence. That's probably about twenty years ago and many miles from my home here on the edge of Anglezarke moor. Raven first showed up on my patch maybe fifteen years back, a fleeting glance of a pair near Belmont that made me risk a thought of them becoming neighbours.
Then, just a few years later a pair took up residence on the old, abandoned quarry across the Yarrow Valley from our home and a relationship began. I spent many an afternoon parked at the top of the quarry watching the pair of them, the male often trying to impress his partner with fancy flights and eloquent language. At least it sounded eloquently wild to me.
At one point he even flew by on his back for a few seconds, surely that got him some brownie points! I grabbed a couple of not very good shots. The light was bad and the action was fast!
Later that year Nicola and I watched as the pair encouraged their single offspring to have the courage to embark on his maiden flight. It took a while, and he sure does look nervous. Shiny blue-black but with a look of trepidation and 'I'm actually doing it' in his eyes. A bit like me when I first rode a bicycle (the blue-black came from my bruises!)
Fortunately the Ravens stayed and have continued to rear their young on and around the quarry for the past few years. We normally see them at some point during our wanders over the moors, flying as a couple or trio if the youngster is still at home. Their primal 'cronk' call adds a certain mystery to the landscape. I've noted recently, mostly on the occasions when I've sat out on the moor for a while, that they have quite a vocabulary including a metallic 'plink plonk' which sounds like some old machine whirring into action.
They too were entirely responsible for my first attempt at a different style of film making, one that became the signature of my ongoing Earthlight film collection. The quality isn't very good as my gear at the time wasn't really up to catching them in flight and maintaining focus. But it certainly pulls back some memories for me and perhaps you too may find it portrays the essence of Ravenness.
I managed to get distant shots of a Raven in the Yorkshire Dales as it flew against storm clouds and these make for a beautiful sequence of images when displayed as a set.
We had a surprise encounter with a Raven on the clifftops on Ireland. Nicola actually stepped into Raven Whisperer mode and fed him the sausages we had brought for lunch. This gave me a great opportunity to get flight shots as Nicola could direct him where to fly, and he was only too happy to oblige for a bit more of our dinner!
On a day out with some photographer friends at Cwm Idwal in Snowdonia I had another chance to spend time with a pair of Ravens. They had noted that a Heron had caught a sizeable trout and decided to try to steal it. The Heron didn't give an inch and after a ten minute squabble strode into the fast flowing stream and dangled the fish just out of reach of the Raven's beak! After teasing for a while it swallowed the fish down in front of the hungry Covids.
My most memorable Raven moment happened in Glen Etive just before the Autumn Equinox of 2021. I'd spent a while filming a distant pair on a misty mountain top a few hundred yards distant and was surprised to have one of them spiral down to me a short while later as I searched for landscapes in the valley. It approached to within a few feet of me and shared a message that was quite frankly life changing.
So it seems only right that I dedicate my first ever collection of items to Raven as they've been with me, encouraging me, right from the conception of Earthlight. Over in my new shop I have Raven themed mugs, notebooks, prints, canvasses and more for anyone who wants to carry a little Raven energy with them or have grace their home. There's also landscapes where I've had noteworthy Raven encounters and a maverick Woodland Crow image to complete the set.
Check out the collection when you have a moment if you're drawn to some beautiful Corvid connections.