Tuesday, 10 March 2015


A favourite sight and sound is a busy rookery in Spring.  I was at Manafon Parish Church today, and there's quite a substantial rookery just behind the churchyard. I didn't count the number of nests, but there must have been thirty or more, wonderfully untiday assemblages of sticks, you wonder how they manage to stay up there. Of course, they don't, not always - a storm can bring them down, or nests can be made unstable through neighbouring birds filching material from them. Just because birds choose to live together in colonies doesn't mean they're not also competitive and at times hostile towards one another. Bit like us, really.

The cawing of the rooks was a permanent background noise throughout my time at Manafon. I didn't have much opportunity just to stand and observe the rookery, but for the short time that I did, I found it hugely entertaining. The birds seem to bounce about the trees, and from time to time most of the colony take to the air together, with a consonant increase in noise levels. Rooks are both the farmer's friend and his enemy, I suppose: they can be destructive of crops, but they are also important predators of many pest species.  There's no doubt, though, that the countryside would be a whole lot poorer without its established rookeries.

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