Thursday, 2 January 2014

Old Year in Rooky Wood

Having just written about rooks roosting, I wanted to reacquaint myself with rookeries and Dru had it on good authority there was a large one in the woods behind the mansion of Ashton Court, so we parked the car in Clifton and hopped across the bridge in the hope of seeing them roost.  

The ground was wet and muddy and somewhat slidey after the recent rain and the winter woods open to the sky and suspiciously quiet.  No tell-tale clumpy nests in trees either.  

After a while I heard a beating but not of rook wings; rather, the drums of victorious City fans in the stadium over the river (boo).  A pair of crows flew past.  Then a lone starling.  But no rooks.  

Dru was puzzled.  Her source knows her rooks from her crows and her Motacilla flava from her Emberiza citronella.  We had to be in the wrong wood, but by now it was nearly dark and the spectacle, if it had happened elsewhere on the estate, would be over.  

We walked back over the bridge, resolved to do some more research into the mysterious disappearing rooks of Bristol and the possibility that their kin might roost on (fairly) nearby Wickwar Common, where the summer before last we'd loitered in the hope of hearing nightingales.  

Such trips are never fruitless.  There were no nightingales singing that dark summer evening, but I did come home with a poem burning a hole in my pocket.  And this night there were stunning views over the city and of our really rather nifty bridge.  

Not a bad way to end the old year and start the new - out and about, cupping the spark of curiousity and always remembering, in the words of Seamus Heaney, to 'credit marvels', whether they're the ones we were expecting or not.

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