Monday, 18 November 2013

Rooks

Anybody who has read my blog for a long time will know that the rook is my favourite bird.   I am not sure why this is except there are two images from childhood which perhaps make me lean in this direction.

The first one is one I have only been told about.   Opposite our house was a large rookery and every year when the young rooks were about to leave the nest they would have a large rook shoot to cull the birds.   Apparently, when I was just a toddler, I was found sitting in the middle of the back lawn, cradling a dead rook and sucking its beak.   I rather prefer not to think of this image very often.

The second is of course that rookery opposite the house.  The sound of the rooks would wake me every morning and I would often go to sleep to the sound of them returning.

Now I am back living in the country again we live within a mile of a very large rookery.   The farmer estimates at least fifty thousand birds in it.   During the Summer we see them scattered about the fields and trees or gathering in our little town, particularly on market day, when there are juicy pickings to be had.

But this time of the year (I have written about this before) just for a short time, until the days get even shorter, the journey of the rooks from their roost to their feeding grounds further up the Dale coincides with me sitting up in bed drinking my morning cup of tea.

Yesterday morning the sky was a deep and vivid red at dawn and for half an hour the rooks streamed past.   The sight was incredible.
In honour of that I am putting on again the poem I wrote about the rooks a few years ago.   Sorry if you are one of those who read it last time, but I make no apologies for printing it again - I just wish you could have seen the wonderful sight.

Rook,

It seems to me the wind
is your friend.
Soaring, tumbling,
playing with the thermals
on a still day.

Tacking, swooping,
cutting along the hedge tops 
manipulating a gale.

Chattering, flying high,
sailing home on a
light breeze.

Building your stick nest
high on the bare branches
for it to rock and rattle
round the rookery.

You joyful bird
with your black, lustrous plumage
and your crusty beak
that stabs at the ground
for leather jackets.

You can
fill the sky with movement,
write a tune on the wires,
blacken a field with your parliament,
and fill my heart with joy as you
surge past my window
in your thousands
at dawn on a cold winter's morning.
 

18 comments:

John Gray said...

They steal the chicken food
Greedy buggers

Reader Wil said...

We have a lot of crows and they are vert cheeky. They are not afraid of people at all.
Thank you for your lovely post and poem!
Wil

Loren said...

No such bird here in America, or at least in the West, so I spent a delightful half-hour reading about them online.

I feel much the same way about crows, though not all my neighbors share that feeling.

Willow said...

Loved hearing about the rooks :)

jinxxxygirl said...

Not a Crow or Raven or a Grackle which is what i thought it might be but a species all its own. I had to go look them up online. Thank you so much for the education and your wonderful poem. Hugs! deb

Tom Stephenson said...

I love Rooks too, and that image of you cuddling a shot one is so sad and touching. What is it about certain people who hate Corvids? Is it because they is black?

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Oh what a lovely poem - and the thought of so many rooks - I just can barely grasp it.

I think your rooks are so similar to our crows - but crows have an all back beak. We see them flying homeward of an evening in the summer - and love the sound of their voices. Though they are not in the number you have - that would be absolutely amazing.

Once I heard a big flock of them in the neighbor's orchard - I ran out and sat on the steps to the deck - delighting in their conversations as they finished off the last of the apples in the autumn.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Oh what a lovely poem - and the thought of so many rooks - I just can barely grasp it.

I think your rooks are so similar to our crows - but crows have an all back beak. We see them flying homeward of an evening in the summer - and love the sound of their voices. Though they are not in the number you have - that would be absolutely amazing.

Once I heard a big flock of them in the neighbor's orchard - I ran out and sat on the steps to the deck - delighting in their conversations as they finished off the last of the apples in the autumn.

angryparsnip said...

I don't know what a Rook is but you can print that poem every year.

cheers, parsnip

Midlife Roadtripper said...

I never thought I'd be a bird watcher, but I can't believe how much time I spend watching. The pelicans showed up on the lake this past week for their winter stay. Accompanied by cormorants. The seagulls will arrive shortly. And there are the ducks that stay all year and the Canadian geese and the snow geese...

I understand the fascination.

thousandflower said...

I loved the sound of the rooks at your farm when we visited. That sound, along with sheep, evokes England to me.

Cloudia said...

I feel the joy!


ALOHA from Honolulu
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Pam said...

Wonderful poem Weaver -Fascinating to hear of rookeries and their vast numbers of birds.

Heather said...

Beautiful poem - a fitting tribute to rooks. There are a couple of rookeries beside the motorway we use quite often, though nowhere near as large as the one you mention. I love seeing them patching up their nests in readiness for the next brood - a sure sign of spring approaching. Closer to home we have crows to watch and enjoy. There were four on our front lawn the other morning.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Yes John, the farmer would agree with your sentiments - they steal our hen food and our cattle food.

I think they are in the crow family - and in the winter jackdaws join them, only leaving at nesting time when they begin to look for holes in the wall and old chimneys to nest in, whereas rooks nest in their trees.

Not the same as grackles - they are more like our starlings. When we were once in the US the trees outside our hotel were alive with them throughout the night as the hotel's lights were left on - what a noise they made.

Tom you may well be right about their unpopularity being due to their blackness, I hadn't thought of that.

Thanks for the kind comments.

Crafty Green Poet said...

lovely descriptions in your poem! Rooks (and all corvids) are so intelligent yet can be so problematic (they remind me of humans in that respect). Just the sound of a parliament of rooks is so evocative

The Solitary Walker said...

I enjoyed your poem too, Pat.

As CGP says, corvids are the most intelligent of birds. If you're out driving in the car, you often have to brake for dozy pigeons and pheasants. But the crows just nonchalantly stand aside at the eleventh hour, then return to the roadkill moments later.

thelma said...

I love those dark creatures of the fields, we had jackdaws that always nested in our chimney pots, and to watch them how they taught their young to fly, taught me the corvids are very intelligent birds...