Rooks on the shortest day

December 21, 2013

As we approach the shortest day, the morning and evening flights from and to the rookery become more noticeable. Numbers are down as the flocks have somewhat dispersed but the slow and noisy trail of wind-tossed Rooks and Jackdaws across dramatic and often stormy dawn skies. Their flight lines are less direct than they were earlier in the year. They spread as if quartering the land. Less certain of the food supply. They call to one another – a language which does not seem to change. Pause and watch.

Two Sundays before Christmas. Food in the hedgerows is in short supply. I hear news that a hungry fox has cleared out a hen house at Spratt’s Green. It is certainly at this point in time that the thrushes turn to the Hawthorn berries. Until now they have studiously avoided the bitter red pippy berry, but as we walk along the railway line we follow a cloud of Fieldfares and other thrushes as they work the hedge. They chatter and chortle as we arrive. Then move away as a flock, circle in our wake and settle to their task. Goldfinches and Linnets concentrate upon whatever they can glean along the margins.   Survival has become the key as the period of plenty has ended.

Vixen calling

December 3, 2013

Woken at 2 in the morning; the shrill cries of a vixen echoed around the valley. She made her way at some speed along the railway line, calling regularly until the distance and wind swallowed the noise.