Changing Seasons: September And The Rook Ballet

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No one quite knows why they do it. Or they didn’t the last time I pursued the matter. But as summer ends so the rooks begin their twilight dancing. There is a large rookery in the wood behind the house. Many scores of birds. Jackdaws live there too. Now each evening, as the sun slips behind Wenlock Edge we watch the rook and jackdaw ballet. Flock after flock flies in, flies out, sweeps up, round, back, spirals, dives in sequences so swift and coordinated that there must surely be some corvid dance-master somewhere orchestrating the moves. The show may last for many minutes, subside into the treetops, then burst out and start all over again. Finally, as the light goes, every bird finds its perch, and the wood subsides into companionable darkness and gentle rook chatter.

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38 thoughts on “Changing Seasons: September And The Rook Ballet

  1. Must be amazing to see in person Tish. I have seen swallows here do a similar thing. One does wonder what it is about and why they don’t slam into each other.

  2. So which is the most appropriate collective noun for rooks? A building (no), a clamour (maybe) or a parliament (my choice given the squawking and seemingly irrational behaviour).

  3. You have reminded me of something I love. Where I lived in Crickhowell – i backed onto the old castle which attracted many jackdaws and rooks . I loved the sound of them….something very primal and beautiful. Thank you….Janet:)

  4. That’s some gorgeous prose Tish. I didn’t know the word ‘corvid’ but can surmise by context. I love the imagery and sound sensations: and I connect with it because last night here in Sammamish, outside of Seattle WA we were admiring a couple bats doing the same — not as dramatic I think as your scene here, but of similar wonder. And to get out there and appreciate that every season, that’s where it’s at. Smile and toast to you and G, lady! — Bill

    1. Cheers, and happy fall to you and yours, Bill. You’re dead right about enjoying every season. And thank you for those fine compliments. Will pass on greetings to Graham. Just had him shelling borlotti beans up at the allotment – a pleasing pastoral pursuit.

  5. I have seen gigantic flocks of starlings do this too. I once stood on a sidewalk in Jerusalem and watched them spiral and dance until the light was completely gone. They don’t migrate, so it wasn’t that. Maybe it’s some kind of social ritual, but it is beautiful.

  6. I’ve seen the swallows too. How did those birds learn their maths? And don’t say “on the wing” or on the fly. Whatever they know is somehow related to our ability to appreciate and enjoy watching. Cheers!

    1. It’s good to know there’s so much to enjoy in the natural world in a time when human activities are so deeply dubious, not to say downright wicked. Hm. Must go find some birds to watch – and double-quick.

  7. Tish, I always love to come to your latest post and see what’s on offer. I often leave with a sense of peace and the enjoyment of seeing a bit of life different from where I am and live but one that engenders many similar thoughts and feelings. Thanks for that.

    janet

  8. That rook ballet must be amazing to see. I’ve seen pigeons here in Vancouver do the same thing, but in daylight. Suddenly they all take off, do a circular fly by and then land. A few minutes later they do it again. Quite wonderful to watch. Who knows why!
    Alison

  9. I’ve seen images and video clips of these birds in action. It’s incredible and only wish I cold witness them in person. That aside, this is a stunning capture, Tish.

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