Friday, 6 March 2009

Back to B.B.


BB's "Letters from Compton Deverell" is my downstairs reading at the moment. I would love to share with you part of one of his March letters, in which he is writing about Rooks:

"The shining sable birds were passing to and fro from the rookery to a ploughed field somewhere behind me. Some crossed directly overhead without the least fear though they could see me clearly. It was very definite flight line. And how delighted were these bald-faced wise birds with this bright spring hour! They were like children, you could see this joy in their bouyant flight. There was one old bird with his primaries pure white. He mde the journey four times in the hour. He was not gathering nesting material, I think that he felt he must be flying somewhere to feel the soft wind among his feathers and the lift of the air currents under him. He had a mate in a half-built nest in a tree at one end of the spinney and always, of course, he returned there and conversed with his spouse who was busy a-building.

Other birds were waddling about in the sunny field outside the spinney, close to the bounding hedge. These were gathering bents with which to line their nests. Bird after bird dropped down from the tree tops and searched about among the dead bleached grass and when they had twisted off a bent would fly up with it to their respective nests.

A few birds were already sitting for I could see their motionless black tails poking over the edges of their nests. A good many rooks had not yet commenced house building but were sitting in lovesick immobility, pressed side by side in the most delightful Darby and Joan manner, taking no notice of the hustle and commotion going on around them. . . .

One old rook was courting a shy lady, running around her on the grass, bowing in the most absurd way, presenting himself before her as she hopped on the sunny sward, holding out his wings and raising his head feathers until he seemed to be wearing a high crowned hat."

He mentions how he spent over an hour just amusing himself by watching the rooks, as he sheltered from the last of the winter cold in the less of some hawthorns. To spend an hour so today would to many people, rushing here and there, to be such an ill use of time. I disagree.

4 comments:

Rowan said...

I disagree too, I love rooks and especially love to see and hear them flying to and from their roosts at first light and dusk. Must re-read some of my BB books - wish I had two of me, one to read and one to do housework and gardening!

Jodie said...

I've been watching our rookery from my desk in the last week or two - it's been blustery weather and they are struggling to fly with enormous branches which they wrench out of the ash tree opposite my window. I could easily spend an hour watching.

Morning's Minion said...

Observing wild creatures, the changes of seasons, learning more about the countryside is never time wasted. Imagine having to live in a city--I think I would shrivel and waste away!
I had to look up rooks--was correct in thinking they are kin to our American crow and the raven. We have both here in the west. I'm told that ravens get larger for every year they live [?] Wyoming is known for high winds--so often I look out over the pond and see a raven battling into the gusts; or they teeter on fence wires with their feathers blown awry.

nancy said...

The rooks have such personality. Great post. I love that photo. did you take it? I'm back and will be in at SDQ as soon as I can remember my password or can set a new one. I have a lot of reading to catch up with here on your blog and will set about doing it tomorrow. I skimmed, and it's enchanting. Hope all is well with you.
Love,
Nancy