Sunday, 21 December 2014

Dec 21st Buckenham

I took my Aunt Barbara to see one of the great wildlife spectacles in Britain. We have come to Buckenham to see the biggest rook roost in the country. On average, there can be a possible 30-40,000 birds coming in to roost here in winter. We got ourselves in position along with a small group of people on the margin of a field, all here to witness this great event.

Rooks are large corvids (meaning a member of the crow family) with a large grey bill, overhanging feathers on the legs like a pair of baggy trousers and a diamond-edged tail. These birds are joined by jackdaws, a smaller corvid with a grey neck and eye.

As dusk arrived, hundreds of these corvids are already feeding on the stubble on the field we were watching. Then out of nowhere, thousands upon thousands of rooks and jackdaws swarmed in from behind us to join them. They swirled in the sky like a living tornado against the sunset that turned blood red in the background. The field turned into a sea of black corvids and the nearby telephone wires sank with their weight.

My drawing of the Rook Roost
It got darker and darker. The corvids seeked towards the light of the diminishing sun and swept across the field to avoid the encroaching darkness. They couldn't of course escape the darkness for long and this meant they had one place to go. But before they could fly over our heads and into the trees that the rooks of Buckenham have roosted in for centuaries, even more corvids (maybe a couple of thousand more), from nowhere, came in behind us. Half of them joined the birds on the field, while others flew into roost in the trees by Buckenham church. This triggered the others to fly past us to join them.

The sound of 30-40,000 birds cawing from these trees is like the sound of waves crashing against the shore. Its a remarkable experience. You will never look at a rook in the same way again once you've witness this event.

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