Poetry and Pictures from the Yorkshire Dales by Alan Hartley

dales poetry headerPhotograph ©David Tarn

My Dales Rookery


rookery-closeup.jpgIn autumn days they hold their 'parliaments'
And haggle fiercely face to feathered face
Trying to settle ancient arguments
About each precious nesting place,
But winter brings an end to animus
And they all roost together without fuss.

In spring nest renovation starts once more.
Fresh twigs are brought from the far distant wood
And, in accordance with rooks' ancient lore,
When neighbours fly away in search of food
Twigs may be stolen from the vacant nest
For all rooks know that stolen twigs are best.

So, once again, the arguments begin
And every dawn throughout the early spring
rookery.jpgI am awakened by their raucous din
Before the morning lark begins to sing.
I must confess I have been known to pray
For all my lovely rooks to fly away!

But anger always fades as sunlight spreads
And I enjoy their noisy company
Once I have risen from my restless bed.
I hear in the discordant symphony
A joyous call of corvid ecstasy
And add my voice to the cacophony.

In contrast, sunset brings a lullaby
That filters through the rustling canopy,
Rook murmuring that's softer than a sigh.
Oh, how I'd love to climb the topmost tree
And lie there high above the rookery
To hear what they are saying about me.

The reason that I am able to speak fluent 'Rook', is that, in 1998, we rescued a fledgling rook which had fallen from a nearby rookery during a storm and managed to raise her to adulthood. Her name was Hilda and she taught me all I know about the language – and a lot of other things.