… in my morning walk in the gloaming, across the garden to the chicken run. It is a walk I have done in all weathers, and this past week has been no exception. I can trip over frost-hardened molehills, or squelch in the mud; gaze at the stars sparkling as dawn is rumoured, or bow my head against the buffeting wind. The wind suits them best, and I watch for a minute or two.
One day I may have been wakened enough, and had the foresight, to be armed with a camera. It’s the rooks; though there will be jackdaws too, but in the gloom they are all but wraiths. They rise from that stand of old Scots pine across the way; rise from woods in the lee of the wind. And they play. We can leave the starlings to their murmuring, for the rooks do nothing quietly. But they do flock and they rise and ride the currents, filled with joy.
They settle again on the canopy, then rise again. The group splits, some on the dead braches of the beech, the main host in the pines. There is quiet, but it does not last. Another gust and they are off again, swirling, massing, calling. Black wings, grey skies. I try to count – twenty in that group; ergo a couple of hundred in total, probably much more.
And off they go again, dipping and rising, swooshing; swirling across the fields and back again. Flocking, resting on the wires, twisting as one, and all the time calling; planning the day’s feeding no doubt. The chickens call impatiently, and I tip the pellets into the feeder, closing the door behind me. I trip over a cat, for they are always first fed; soon it will be my turn, the coffee is brewing.
There are times we curse the scarcity of light in the winter, those few hours. But when dawn is delayed, and it nears at chicken-feeding time, I get to watch the rooks, and to listen. Oh if The Urchins made such a racket they’d hear from me alright. They’ll be back soon, but for now it’s just me and the rooks.