Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Flapping about at dawn

Ever since I read Mark Cocker's Crow Country I've been watching crows and rooks. I like the idea that they return to the same place each evening, travelling miles to sit together. And I like knowing relativey useless things about them, such as the way they find small worms by stabbing their tough beaks into soft grass using a sort of hit and hope technique.

There's an old Scots Pine that stands in the churchyard of our village, where the rooks gather in the morning. I can see the tree from my bedroom and sometimes I watch them flapping about at dawn. After a bit of tooing and froing between the tree and the telephone wires they fly off in small groups. Some go west, the majority seem to go north. I counted fifty birds this morning. It's hard to tell which are rooks and which are crows, but I don't worry.

My neighbour tells me - with some glee - that they used to cull the rooks each year. It brought back memories of the photographs in one of our local pubs - of men carrying the dead rooks, caracasses tied at the feet and hanging in bunches. A good cull would take more than a hundred birds.

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