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.
The things I do. Yesterday’s twilight with its magnificent post-storm sky had me standing on the cabin bed in my study and resting my camera on the open rooflight. If I use lots of zoom I can spy on the rooks in the wood on Sytche Lane. At this time of year there’s much to watch. For one thing they are making some serious extensions to their old nests.
For another, now is the time when the more spectacular ‘fly pasts’ begin. There seem to be two modes. The first kind involves a sudden outburst in the rookery (there are jackdaws in the wood too). For no apparent reason all the roosting birds whoosh out over the meadow, bowl around in a swirling mass and then return to the trees as if nothing had happened. The second kind is a much bigger production and usually happens around sunset or shortly afterwards. It seems to be about a gathering in of rook cohorts from the four quarters, a reconfirmation of rookery membership perhaps (?) – this after their day’s foraging around the fields.
As they return to the rookery so the aerial dance begins: sometimes high above Townsend Meadow, at others in high-speed mass swoops at ground level. It is very exhilarating. And perhaps that’s it. The display is an expression of rookish joi de vivre. And why not? If I were selling my house, I would say the view of rooks from the study rooflight is a very particular asset, though maybe not for the ornithophobic or anyone with a tendency to vertigo.
Spiky Squares #18
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell