I took this wonderful candid portrait of Janette Igraine Hustwitt Skelton, The Queen’s Keeper of Ravens at Knaresborough Castle on a recent visit. You often find Janette and her ravens around the castle on weekends and bank holidays through-out the summer.
At first I thought the bird in the shot was a Crow, some thought Magpie, it could have even been a Magpie/Crow cross, but in fact he’s an African Pied Raven native to Africa and Madagascar. The one above is called Mourdour named after the necromancer in Ivanhoe, they only grow to crow size so are commonly known as Pied Crows. Janette really loves all her Ravens as you can see from the picture I captured, she’s also given them great names as well…there’s Elf, Gabriel & Izabella.
Janette’s ravens became part of the castle attraction as a Millennium project with the blessing of Prince Charles the Duchy Of Lancaster (who owns the castle) as almost like a northern version of the Tower of London Ravens. One of her Ravens (Gabriel) actually came to Knaresborough as a chick from the Tower of London Ravens and has the nickname H.M. Gabriel due to his Royal blood. The ravens live with Janette, so you wont see one without the other, she also has a great website devoted just to her flock called Knaresborough Castle Ravens
Some other shots below taken on the day, including the ‘Classic’ Knaresborough Bridge photograph.