Journal Entry from the Countryside: Rooks Up Close and Personal | Written by Sean Wood
Richard Le Gallienne, a poet from Liverpool, wrote: “I intended to work today / But a bird sang in the apple tree.” These words hold great meaning for me, as my home in Galloway, Fairy Hill Croft, is filled with distractions. With harsh weather conditions and holiday preparations, life has been hectic.
In September, I wrote about the badger groups that have now dug a total of 47 latrines near my wood shed and down the lane. Most of the badgers were successful in hitting their target, but some completely missed the hole and none of them filled it back up. It is clear that they need to be taught proper bathroom etiquette. As my white beard continues to grow, I also had the opportunity to rescue a roe deer stuck in a fence, accidentally stumbled upon a woodcock camouflaged in the forest, observed 200 Holsteins being milked, and disturbed three blue tits resting in an abandoned house martin’s nest. This was a new experience for me.
The most noteworthy sight this week was the large group of rooks that flew up from the top field. It reminded me of the movie “Hitchcock.” The sunlight highlighted their distinct baggy pants, gray beaks, and shiny black feathers as they went back to the cowpats to eat.
My goal for the new year is to figure out which people are the first to acknowledge my presence. This can be challenging when confronted with a chaotic situation. The rooks, who are well-dressed and confident, have a complicated system of leaders and followers. While the older birds handle most of the nesting, breeding, and parenting duties, it is believed that they also motivate their subordinates to assist in raising the young. They lead by example in activities such as foraging, defending their territory, and other behaviors.
During this time of year, as nesting responsibilities approach, some young birds still attempt to receive nourishment from their parents by lowering their wings and begging for food. However, they are typically rebuffed or scolded, and may even be pecked.
I am fortunate to live among birds and often have the opportunity to observe them up close. Recently, I had a special encounter with a rook who purred like a cat and then let out a regular caw before joining a group on the electricity wires. This reminded me of a quote from my former neighbor Robert Burns, who once wrote: “Give me a spark of nature’s fire, that is all the knowledge I desire.”