Rooks are not black birds. They flash electric blue in the sun; brilliant livewire sparks of intellect and curiosity. Some say that the contemporary British countryside was ordered and laid out for the benefit and convenience of man: the rooks beg to differ. Setting sail each morning in roving piratical bands flung from the rigging of their copse top roost, they see all and know all. Rooks own the countryside as much as any other creature.
Few birds are as entertaining to watch as a party of rooks, alighting on a bright green pasture and setting to plundering it of juicy invertebrates. Yet there’s also a haunting air to them, their skin and feathers taught over canvas frames, the ghoulish grey hatchet of their beaks, the sinister guttural rasps and squeaks that make up their vocal repertoire.
Once we found a rook skull resting in a Hampshire hedgerow. We waited for the elements to pick it clean, coveting its neat, cold lines. Alas, we eventually forgot about it and it lay unclaimed, except for by the soil which first gave it life. An earthy bird taken back into the dust.