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First known breeding pair of ravens in Suffolk for over 130 years - a ‘really significant’ discovery

PUBLISHED: 17:26 18 May 2018

Raven in Suffolk PIC: Chris Bridges

Raven in Suffolk PIC: Chris Bridges

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Confirmation that ravens have been found breeding in Suffolk for the first time in over 130 years is a “really significant” discovery, an expert has said.

PIC: Chris BridgesPIC: Chris Bridges

The nest site in a secret location in east Suffolk was discovered by Chris Bridge, an ecologist and ornithologist who works for Abrehart Ecology based near Woodbridge.

Mr Bridge said his find came after he initially spotted a male raven while carrying out a breeding birds survey on a private site in early March of this year.

“It had a large stick in its mouth and considering the time of year I thought there might be a chance it was making a nest,” he said.

“I followed it quite a distance and there was a nest tucked away up the top of a pylon.”

PIC: Chris BridgesPIC: Chris Bridges

Mr Bridge said he made repeated visits to the location to check on the birds, whose young fledged in early May. There were three or four chicks, he said.

According to Scott Mayson, BirdTrack organiser at the British Trust for Ornithology in Thetford who has visited the site, this is the first time that ravens have been confirmed breeding in Suffolk since 1880.

The birds, which are predators as well as scavengers, were persecuted by gamekeepers and landowners during Victorian times and driven from the region, and for many years were restricted to the west and north of the England, Wales and Scotland.

“But in recent years the distribution of ravens has been moving east,” said Mr Mayson.

“We’ve known about ravens in Bedfordshire for the past 10 to 15 years and they have slowly started to come into west Suffolk in the past five years. There are two or three pairs there but breeding has never been proven.

“Ravens are rare in the east of Suffolk, so to find a pair who have found the right conditions to breed is really significant”.

Ravens are the largest of the corvid family, which includes crows and rooks.

Mr Bridge described “the glossy, black appearance”, “large wedge-shaped tail” and “shaggy look”.

He said ravens are site-specific birds, so he intends to go back next year to see if the pair have returned to the nest site.

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