Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ravens at Home in the Mt. Veeder range

Upon returning from England I needed a Mt. Veeder Raven fix.  So up I went to visit my friends up on the mountain.  At my cat sitter's home the raven pair were in rare form.  They were squawking, flying around, diving and making lots of racket.  Loved every minute of it!  Then I traveled further up the road to visit my former next door neighbors.  Bold and Shy were flying around putting on a display while we sat on the deck drinking good Napa Valley wine.  Then another pair of ravens joined in the fray and all four birds were flying and making lots of racket.  A great number of ravens suddenly appeared as darkness began to fall on the mountain.  They appeared to be heading for the Raven Tree on our former property.  It is a very large coast redwood tree, very tall with thick foliage.  Once the ravens fly into the tree and quiet down for the night, one cannot tell there is a bird anywhere around the area.  There is much flying to and fro as they select the tree and get settled for the night.  It is quite a sight as birds fly into the area from all directions.  I don't think that Bold and Shy join this pack of juvenile birds for the night but I could be wrong.  They may want to share in the reconnaissance information that the juveniles have collected during their daily flights around the area.  It is thought that the birds congregate at night for protection and to share information about food locations.  I wish I could speak RAVEN and find out!
We went to a Halloween party on Friday night and I wore a spectacular Raven Witch Hat.  Oh it was great with black roses, one pink rose, lots of netting, veil, black feather and of course a fake raven!  I am thinking of wearing it everywhere= and why not?

Friday, October 14, 2011

What are the RAVENS doing at the Tower of London?

Just got back from London town.  It seems everyone in town is 30 years old or less.  We kept looking for people of a certain age, like ours, but no luck.  Well the real reason to go to London was to visit the RAVENS at the Tower of London.  So off we went.  We got to the Tower on a Friday morning at 9 AM, first in line we were.  So off to the Jewel House to ogle the crown jewels.  With that task completed- it was RAVENS I wanted to see.  There were several ravens sitting on park benches and on the grass.  I sat on one of the benches and had a talk with Mr. Raven.  I was close enough to see how his wing was clipped.  All of the feathers of one section of the wing, like a whole row, had been clipped down to the nub- ouch!!  I saw one of the clipped ravens try to fly- it could only flutter.  This made me very sad.  There were crows around the grounds and they were flying here and there.  I felt sorry for the ravens.  The Tower ravens have a much lower toned croak than Bold and Shy of Mt. Veeder.  It was interesting to listen to them.
It was very hot at the Tower.  London was having a HEAT wave.  I went to find a shady spot to rest.  There was a big cage located where I sat.  It contained 4 young ravens.  They were very hot and were panting. There was a small plastic pool of water in the cage.  They were getting a drink and splashing about and trying to stay out of the sun.
As I was cooling my heels, a fully dressed Beefeater came to stand near me.  He was looking for a cool place to rest also.  Their Beefeater uniforms are very beautiful but not suited to a heat wave.  I asked him about the ravens in the cage.  He told me that the raven chicks come from aviaries in Cornwall and Scotland to be raised at the Tower.  He said the breeding program at the Tower was not going very well and so they import the raven chicks.  They used to have a Raven Breeder at the Tower who was very successful.  Unfortunately he was killed by a dog that was brought into the Tower grounds.  The dog was brought to the Tower to search the grounds before a visit by the Queen.  How unfortunate was that, sort of goes along with other events at the Tower.  The Beefeater told me that they have 3 Raven Masters at the Tower.  I said that I would like that job.  He said he jolly would NOT like that job as the masters get bit.  Well- it is no wonder they get bit if they are the ones doing the wing clipping!  So I saw the ravens but it was not necessarily a wonderful experience.
Next we went out to Hampton Court Palace to see the digs of Henry VIII.  Walking the old hallways, one could almost hear the horses coming in the gate and footsteps on the cobble stones.  Of course my RAVEN detector was on and working.  I saw a lovely pair of ravens being harrassed by a murder of crows.  Really those crows are so pesky!  There is plenty of garden for all the birds at Hampton Court, why bother the ravens?  It is a beautiful garden and I saw many different birds poking around in the shrubs.  I would have liked to spend more time in the gardens but we were very tired and retreated to our hotel room in London.
Soon enough we left London and went to Kent to spend a few days with an old friend from Napa High School. She has lived in England all of her adult life.  As usual I was looking for Ravens along the one lane country roads.  I never saw a raven but did see many black and white magpies.  So all was not lost in Kent, a most beautiful, green and lovely place.
When we arrived home from England at 1 AM in the morning- what did I see?  A Welcome Home sign at the door AND a new doormat with a CROW on it!!  Wonderful!  What a nice surprise from my very good buddy, Dick.  I am going to take my black sharpie and modify that beak and it will soon be a RAVEN!