Anyone who has ever watched birds flocking will understand where Daphne du Maurier got the idea for ‘The Birds’ (or why Arthur Machen was inspired to write ‘The Terror’). There is something both hypnotic and intimidating about their aerial manoeuvres and tight-knit fellowships. They form tribes. And so often, people don’t.
Quite regularly a parliament of rooks assembles in the trees behind my house at dusk. Often, hundreds of them show up.
In the winter their evening get togethers are very noticeable on the stripped branches. They flap in like a raucous gang, settle on their perches, gossip about their day’s antics, and seem to eye us up as potential marks.
This is another parliament I witnessed gathering one evening in the park. The light was so blue I changed the image into black and white, and tweaked the contrast. The pictures seemed more like etchings rather than photographs, which suited the mood. This doesn’t really capture the sheer number of them, and it can hardly evoke their cries of welcome as they arrived at their rendezvous.
I like this wave formation – and that each bird is trying to get the highest spot on the tree. No one wants the lower branches. Rooks are not mealy-beaked birds.
There is a curious simpatico between the birds and the branches. They suit each other. Not every cluster of trees can host a parliament it seems. It’s got to have the right vibe.
In particular, it needs to be a good vantage point. Where they can be seen.
And where they can observe you.