Sunday, 4 October 2009

Rooks and crows

'If you see one rook, it's a crow. If you see more than one crow, they're rooks'.

The truth of this old bit of folk wisdom was brought home to me over the weekend. On Friday evening, as I was sitting in front of the caravan sipping the first aperitif, at least a hundred rooks suddenly wheeled in from the east, circling and cawing, lighting in the treetops then taking off again. Twenty or thirty of them perched on the power line which crosses the site between me and the sea. It seemed that they were all facing in my direction. I thought of 'The Birds' - Daphne du Maurier, not Hitchcock; at the time, I was the only person in White Park Farm ...

On my way home this morning, I encountered a single crow which was pecking at some roadkill in the fast lane of the A40, just before Carmarthen. There wasn't much traffic. As I approached, the carrion crow glanced up, and disdainfully stepped aside a couple of paces to let me pass.


  1. Yes, that's crow for you. They do like playing chicken.
    Interesting bird activity here yesterday. Looked out across Lake Tucker to suddenly see a hundred or more swallows swirling & diving over it, like they do through the summer. A minute later they were gone.
    Consensus is that they were off to South Africa & just before crossing the coast they spotted the pond (for it is no more than that) & thought they'd grab a last snack before the trip.

  2. Our housemartins left a couple of weeks’ ago and spent the last few days of their visit to Norfolk showing their youngsters how to build a nest. This meant that every time we stepped outside our back door we were bombarded with bits of mud being dropped down from the eaves by the incompetent young ones. They only ever practice above our back door, thank goodness and I don’t think we could cope with a complete nest and all the associated droppings! We have one at the front and the pile on the roof below is reaching new heights this year, with the lack of rain in East Anglia.

    Talking about rooks and crows, we have many rook’s nests around us and they come into the garden, very cautiously, for the bread we put out during the winter and spring. They are quite amusing, as they sit on the fence for ages until they are absolutely sure it is safe and then they swoop down and dance sideways on the grass to the piece of bread they want. We were on the river yesterday and saw what looked like two crows who thought they were seagulls. They were with a flock of gulls who were hovering over the water and swooping for food. The crows were doing the same except they chickened out at the last minute when they got near the water. Very strange behaviour.

  3. The swallows here are odd too. They divebomb the swimming pools and drink from them as they skim the surface. The sea is five minutes down the road but hardly any gulls at all. In fact the only birdsong around here is from poor, exotic birds kept in cages.
    My favourite bird sounds are larks and be heard from a sunny field somewhere.