31 May 2013

Random readings - from Wildwood by Roger Deakin

Rookery by Amanda Slater (from here)
"Rooks build their untidy-looking nests of twigs in a series of strata on top of the previous year’s structure, as storks do. … They choose live, pliable twigs and must weave them well to stand up to the winter storms, lining the nest with leaves, grass, even some clay, hair or wool. With twigs, as with food, rooks are prone of envy, and not above stealing from one another, as people do from building sites. After five or six years of layering, the structure grows top-heavy and may at last tumble down in a gale, a useful find for a cottager in need for dry kindling. ...

"The parent birds soared off in sallies of flight accompanied by crescendos of cawing, returning with breakfast for the fledglings, who expressed their satisfaction in half-choked high-pitched mewling. Each time they landed, the rooks fanned their tails in greeting: gesture is an important part of their language. A good deal of the rooks’ circling, gliding flight seemed to be nothing other than joyful orisons with no apparent destination in the fields. [They have been seen] flinging themselves into a strong wind and somersaulting wildly upward, then diving straight down again towards the wood like bungee jumpers, checking their swoop just in time with a tilt of a wing to glide far away across the valley towards the church on the far hill. Rooks like to fly high, and sometimes, when they arrive directly over the rookery at a great height, they will fold one wing flat against their body and execute a breathtaking perpendicular dive so fast it is audible, twisting at the last moment to land in the tree. This is called ‘shooting the rook’."

From Wildwood: A Journey Through Trees, by Roger Deakin (2007). He finished the book four months before he died. "Knowing what we know, the forests he celebrates and conjures feel as much a homecoming, or a resting place" said this review.

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