UP AND down go the crazy ravens in looping undulations, some of the birds suddenly splitting off into pairs to engage in their own sweeping aerobatics before joining the main group again.

I scan the brow of this grassy top in the Ochils with my binoculars and see several more ravens sitting along a line of fence posts watching the proceedings.

But soon they too take to the air and join the melee. There are now more than 20 ravens in the air, spiralling and tumbling just above the ridge in a spectacular black-winged aerial ballet.

The displays always seem to occur just above the ridge, possibly because the swirling air currents provide extra lift here.

These airborne antics also only ever take place an hour or so before dusk – when I visit during the day there are few ravens about.

It is well known that ravens flock in autumn and it is believed that such congregations consist mainly of young birds and adult non-breeders.

Some studies also suggest that such behaviour is part of the process of pairing-up and finding the right partner.

Maybe so, but when watching these ravens toss their bodies about all over the sky, one can’t help but feel that they are also enjoying themselves and doing it all for a bit of fun.

After a hard day foraging for food, why not socialise with your contemporaries before bedding down for the night?

On these late afternoon visits to the Ochils, there is other life around too. I often see a male kestrel doing the last of his rounds, hovering periodically as he searches for voles.

And just before darkness takes hold, blackbirds start to ‘clack, clack’ from a nearby woodland. They have spotted a tawny owl and are raising the alarm.

As well as alerting their own kind, these blackbirds are unwittingly doing a favour for other wildlife by warning them that danger is about.