Thursday, 4 March 2010


Over the land freckled with snow half-thawed
The speculating rooks at their nests cawed.
And saw from elm-tops, delicate as flower of grass,
What we below could not see, Winter pass.

Edward Thomas

No pictures of rooks, unfortunately.

Nor any pictures of what I saw over at the edge of the Gorge the other morning,when I paused there on my way over to Clifton with some books that I'm touting around the shops, including the new pirate one.

It was a glorious day, calm and clear, with a bit of warmth in the sun. Very high up and to the west, a raven was circling in an updraft. It was so far up that I only thought that it might be a raven, until it dropped into a vertical dive, throwing in the occasional swoop and flick-roll, until it dropped into the quarry opposite and landed on a tree. That's a raven, all right.

Then there was a kerfuffle from the peregrines that nest below the viewpoint, and one appeared, circling in the Gorge until it too caught an updraft and spiralled up until it had gained enough height to drop down into the trees of Leigh Woods, where it flicked around the branches and out of sight. Ravens and peregrines are a bit Jocks and Geordies. I wonder if it had gone over there to irritate the raven?


  1. Ah, Edward Thomas. We seem to be a little behind you, but everyday celebrate winter's passing.

    Snow on a hillside,
    sunlit afternoon in March:
    melting styrofoam.

  2. Ravens are canny birds and no mistake. I was once 'escorted' out of Glen Coe by a raven that tracked my car from top to bottom of the Glen. Respect.

  3. My nature book says that if you draw a line between Vienne and La Rochelle, that's as far south as rooks go. We don't see them very often. I used to live near some rookeries as a child, they were wonderful on a windy day.

    Did you hear Poeple in Cars around lunch time today?

  4. Jackdaws are my favourite corvids. I love the crippled swagger they adopt when walking with a human audience. I just wonder do they walk like that when nobody's around? And does it matter?

  5. I like Graham's suggestion that creatures have special behaviours when we are observing them. I wouldn't mind betting that jackdaws only walk (awkwardly) when a human is around in order to big themselves up, but revert to small-bird hopping when not. Similarly, did you ever wonder why flowers appear to grow though you never actually catch one growing? It's because they do it *while we are not looking* :-)

  6. Ah, Suzzy. How do you think we appear to flowers?

  7. @ Graham - just a blur of hyper-rapid Brownian motion, I should think. And pathetically deficient in chlorophyll :-)