Organized Chaos In Rookery Wood


As with cloud-watching over Wenlock Edge, so with keeping an eye on things at the rookery behind the house. It’s endlessly fascinating: a visual meditation if you like. One thing that happens after the rooks return each twilight after the day’s foraging in the fields, is that there’s a general settling in the treetops. The roost is also shared with a large number of jackdaws. For a time after the general homecoming all seems peaceful, just some low-level muttering between fellows.

And then for no obvious reason (at least not to me) there’s a mass explosion from the wood, followed by a great whirling and swirling, which then may, as spring approaches, evolve into a full-on balletic extravaganza.


Cohorts of rooks and jackdaws divide and swoop, re-gather, execute a Mexican wave, divide and swoop on and on. The show may last for several minutes. If you happen to be walking over the field when it happens, as I was last night returning from the allotment, it can be almost elevating; the sense of avian energy lifting your heels from the earth. Wheeee-eeeesh!  Let me join in.



But then, just as suddenly, it all stops. The birds alight in the wood, and all is quietness again. Perhaps it never happened.




A small helping of earth magic for challenging times.


Lens-Artists: Chaos

46 thoughts on “Organized Chaos In Rookery Wood

  1. You’re having some pretty dramatic skies there, these days. And I recognize the explosion of blackbirds from the trees. I love to see that happen.

  2. Rather a big helping of earth magic, Tish! I greatly enjoyed your beautiful skies, and recognized the swirl of birds just at sunset or after. We have big swarms here too, and I quite like the sound of them. We do need more of walking in nature in this chaos, nature’s soothing, everlasting swirl.

  3. The crows and rooks do this here too, often rising from the next door barn roof. I wonder sometimes if there is a buzzard in the vicinity, and they always panic when a helicopter comes near. Soothing sights in an ever changing mad, mad, world.

    1. I shall pay more attention to see if I can see what scoots them from their treetops. My somewhat daft thought is that when they first come home some end up on the wrong branch, and so then there’s an almighty argy-bargy – after which everyone comes in at once and lands in the right place.

  4. Wonderful! Here in the city I just have the pigeons to amuse and keep me company – they congregate outside my window on my neighbour’s roof and the more curious ones occasionally eye me from the window ledge. I wonder what they make of us…?

    1. That’s an intriging thought, James. What DO they make of us. I seem to remember a pedestrianised part of Sheffield town centre where starlings used cavort and muster at sunset. There was a small chapel precinct next to a McDonalds or similar. Strange to recall that now.

      1. I think you might mean near Lady’s Bridge perhaps which I’ve just learnt is the oldest bridge in Sheffield (it’s got its own wikipedia entry). Have a dim recollection of seeing starlings leaving roosts close by or even under the bridge and flying in small flocks. Have seen huge murmurations near to Nantwich (on my way back to Shropshire). Breathtaking.

  5. I love watching those swirling birds. We don’t have big flocks of birds around here. We used to have big flocks of Canada Geese, but in recent years, they haven’t been migrating so we don’t see the geese in their V-formation heading south these days.

    1. We have loads of Canada geese in the UK. They can be a bit of a pest especially when they invade the lakes in urban parks. But they are beautiful in flight, honking as they go.

  6. Isn’t it a wonderful sight. We don’t seem to have roosting birds here, but at both the Melbourne and Wellington apartments where I often stay (or did, while travel was still possible), its a nightly show not to be missed.

    At the moment I’m content to sit outside in the evenings watching and listening g to our resident Tui and their complex and rather wonderful songs.

  7. I’ve just stumbled on your site and am loving it. I especially liked the series of posts about the rookery which reminded me a lot of this passage from January in the Sussex Woods by Richard Jefferies …

    The short January evening is of but a few minutes’ duration; just now it was only dusky, and already the interior of the wood is impenetrable to the glance. There rises a loud though distant clamour of rooks and daws, who have restlessly moved in their roost-trees. Darkness is almost on them, yet they cannot quite settle. The cawing and dawing rises to a pitch, and then declines; the wood is silent, and it is suddenly night.

    This is my interpretation as a haiku …

    in the rookery

    I have some catching up to do 😊

    1. Many thanks, Clive, for the kind words, the Richard Jefferies very lovely extract, and your haiku. You’ve reminded me to return to Jefferies. I have a copy of his The Life of the Fields. In times of tiers and lockdowns such works are excellent antidotes: ideal for a spot of spirit travelling 🙂

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