This morning's Heights Hotel walk took us out to the Westcliffs where we were treated to a superb display of aerobatics by a group of ravens.
A year ago I filmed these ravens at Melbury Down.
And four years ago this raven was at Portland Bill.
I first saw ravens on the Westcliffs of Portland back in 1969.
At that time there was just the one pair there and another pair on the Purbeck coast. The Portland pair disappeared in the early '70s and I assumed that they would never come back.
For about ten years I only saw a very few ravens, mostly individual birds, unless I travelled to Wales or Dartmoor. Then in the late '80s the ravens returned and started breeding again on the Westcliffs, near Blacknor.
Then about 10 years later, some time in the '90s, a second pair started breeding on the Eastcliffs at Grove Point. At that time I lived on Grove Road and could watch these birds from the upstairs windows of my house as they raided the pig farm opposite, carrying great beakfulls of red pig pellets back to their young.
Now there are 3 or 4 pairs on Portland and many more inland, often breeding on electricity pylons if there are no cliffs nearby. I often wonder what caused them to come back. The only clue I have is that their disappearance in the '70s seemed to coincide with the drop in sheep numbers on Portland. At that time if you wanted to see a raven you had to travel north and west to where sheep farming was prevalent. But now they can be found in all sorts of areas, mostly well away from sheep. So it seems that something happened to the small population of ravens that was left in the early '80s to make them change their dependence on sheep and adapt to a much wider range of food.