Country Mouse on rooks

The rooks are once again feeding studiously beside the cows on the dairy farm high above the small hamlet of Farleigh Wallop. I drive pass them almost daily, but, until now, have failed to really notice them. Everyone sees rooks all the time and overlooks them.

Although they’re often confused with crows, rooks are sociable, whereas crows are not. The old East Anglian adage ‘When tha’s a rook, tha’s a crow; and when tha’s crows, tha’s rooks’ sums it up. But I have been converted to being a rook enthusiast since reading Mark Cocker’s new book Crow Country. It’s a beautifully written celebration of rooks and the wild lonely parts of Norfolk where the author lives. I challenge anyone not to view his or her surroundings and particularly rooks in a new light after reading it.

The astonishing nightly build-up to their roosting is one of the most dramatic episodes in the countryside, but how many of us have taken the trouble to see it? I doubt any other species is as loyal to its birthplace as the rook: records show that many rookeries are hundreds of years old. The story of the rook is as remarkable as anything in our countryside. Look again at the mighty rook.