Thursday, 18 November 2010

Rooks Two!

I enjoyed reading your rook/crow stories in the comments on my yesterday's post. It seems I am not alone in loving them. Here in the UK we say you can distinguish between rooks and crows (if you wish to do so) by the saying - ' if there's more than one crow, they're usually rooks'. This refers, loosely, to the fact that rooks are very sociable birds and like to live in close proximity to other rooks - hance the enormous rookeries like the one below our farm in Forty Acre wood. Crows, on the other hand, are fairly solitary. If there is one nest high in a tree (and how easy they are to see in Winter when the leaves have gone) then that nest is usually a crow's nest. And yes, I agree with Bovey Belle that 'shooters' do not like crows - they accuse them of taking other bird's eggs and babies (some truth in this but live and let live in nature, I say.)

I thought you might be interested to hear why I like rooks so much. I am deep into making Christmas puddings and cakes (4 of each for various friends) so have no chance of going outside to photograph today (who would wish to anyway as it is another grey cold day). So I thought I would do a post about my childhood - at the end of which you will understand my love of the bird.

I was born and brought up in the Lincolnshire Fens. My parents were quite old when I was born - I had a sister twenty-two years older than me and a brother eleven years older than me (both have died some years ago). We lived in what was then a small village (it is now almost a small town). I was definitely an 'after-thought', my mother not being aware she was pregnant until she was taken ill and rushed into hospital, at which point I was born weighing only three pounds and spending my first month in an incubator. They were wonderful parents in spite of the surprise of my birth.

When the second world war started my sister was already married and my brother was immediately called up into the army. So from the age of about six I was, to all intents and purposes, an only child. That can be quite lonely.

But I had lots of friends - this was a friendly village and we all went to the village school until we were eleven. So in many ways it was an idyllic childhood in spite of the war - lots of airfields in the flat lands of Lincolnshire meant lots of army and airforce personnel around in addition to evacuees from various cities. Suddenly there was a lot more going on around us and I loved it.

At eleven I won a scholarship to the grammar school in the city of Lincoln and had to make another set of friends there - but my village friends are friends to this day
although I now live away from Lincolnshire.

But one thing was constant through all this time. We lived opposite to the village church and surrounding the village church was a huge wood - and in that wood was a huge rookery. I awoke each morning to the sound of rooks and I went to bed each night to the sound of rooks. My bedroom window was on the level of some of their nests and I would look out onto mother and father rooks worn out with feeding their young. I would watch young rooks learning to fly, taking off unsteadily from the branch and suddenly realising that their wings would carry them along. And I would grieve with the rooks at what seems to have been an annual rook=shoot cull, when the whole colony would erupt in turmoil, shout and scream their objections and be left decimated at the end of the day. I am told that when I was about two I toddled down our garden path and, finding a dead rook on the grass, picked it up and sucked on its beak!! I prefer not to think about that.

But now, living here in the North Yorkshire countryside, I feel I have come home at last, home to the rooks I love so much and to countryside which, apart from the odd hill or two, is not so very different from where I came from.

16 comments:

Arija said...

I love the way you tried to resuscitate the rook at such a tender age. Grown-ups often do not realise what little children, still connected to the universe, know.

Bovey Belle said...

What a lovely memory of your childhood to share with us. Thank you. I can see now why you love the rooks so much.

BTW, we have the same weather as you by the sound of things and it's proper miserable out there . . .

Golden West said...

What a lovely read, Weaver!

Gerry Snape said...

I just love stories like this especially when they are true. Lovely post today.

jeanette from everton terrace said...

Such a lovely story. I can just see it as a book or movie, with the birds ever present. I'm also thinking about all that baking going on over there - yum!

Jenn Jilks said...

Lovely memories. We have a heron rookery near-by. I plan to visit it regularly in spring! Meantime, the turkeys are cluttering our lawn. They do not mind the rain! Cheers from Cottage Country !

angryparsnip said...

Wonderful story.
I love watching all the birds that live and winter in my area, especially the Quail.
The perfect thing for a gray cold day, a warm kitchen filled with light and fragrant baking. Pretty perfect I think.

cheers, parsnip

Amy said...

I really enjoyed your story - so simply and beautifully told. I missed your previous post, so I went back to read the poem - perfect!

When my daughter and I visited the Bronte parsonage, it was quite foggy with a coating of snow on the ground. There were very few tourists there that day - but I vividly remember those birds "hanging" on the bare branches above!

Heather said...

What wonderful memories Pat - I too enjoyed an idyllic childhood inspite of the war. As a small child I found a dead mouse in the garden and made it a bed in my sewing basket. It wasn't long before my mother scoured my bedroom to find what was causing the awful smell! I was amused by all the rooks or crows and jackdaws who took advantage of feeding time at Slimbridge. They are onto a good thing there.

Rusty said...

Understandable, in my books. Three winters ago I had four ravens show up every day at the feeder - when most other four legged critters were sleeping through the cold weather. Good and interesting friends - and it looks like they might be back this year. ATB!

Titus said...

Thank you Weaver, a wonderful insight into your past, and why you are some of what you are in the present.

As a child the bedroom I shared with my little brother looked down onto the roundabout on Oldchurch Road, and I still sleep best to the sound of traffic!

Esther Montgomery said...

I love the sound of rooks. Blackbird song makes me mournful. The sound of rooks makes me feel at home.

Esther

Dave King said...

Must be the first ever kiss of life for a rook. Lovely post.

Rare Lesser Spotted said...

Thanks for telling us the difference, I've always wondered and we have it seems, a crow around us, not a rook!
My ancestors come from Lincolnshire, a small twee village called Corringham not far from Gainsborough and then they went to Downham Market, just across the Norfolk border not far from The Wash on the fens at a place called Stow Bardolph Fen which we visited last year on a week off. Lovely country in Lincs and Norfolk.
XX

thousandflower said...

Interesting that your crows are solitary as here in the western US our crows form huge flocks particularly at night at lot like you describe the rooks doing. We also have ravens who are usually just in pairs except for a few weeks when their newly fledged young are with the parents. So if it is solitary it is a raven, if it's a flock, crows.

BT said...

What a beautiful story Pat, no wonder you love the rooks. I love the noise they make. It's as though they are chattering to each other in the tree tops - who knows, maybe they are.