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Nature Watch, with Trevor Beer

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: August 21, 2014

Trevor Beer

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In a field corner we ate our sandwiches in the shade of dogwood and guelder rose trees. It is usually muddy but the recent weather has produced cracks in the soil and the hedgebanks is a mosaic which will take a bit of “repairing”. On the hillside rooks poked about in dry grass.

Interesting birds the crow family, the rooks living communally. At dimmity they’ll return to a communal roost near some well used nest site, often sweeping about the sky in a noisy pre-roost display. The bare white beak patch gives them a country name of barefaced crow, while in Cornwall the rook is the Brandre. Young rooks are known as perchers or branchers, a name sometimes given to young herons.

Rooks in tumbling flight are said to forecast rain and in Devon they are said to be doing so when roosting at midday. Their scientific name is Corvus frugilegus, corvus Latin for a raven, and frugilegus, for fruit gathering, no doubt from its mixed diet which includes fruits and seeds.

Watching rooks feeding in the field, no doubt on leatherjackets and other insects, one notices their rather sedate walk. A farmer friend in South Devon says he has a rookery on the farm and they and foxes follow the plough. He regards them as useful allies to his farming. No doubt scarecrows were “scare rooks” and erected for the purpose of frightening away rooks rather than carrion crows

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