Country diary: jackdaws break the monastic silence

Egglestone Abbey, Teesdale: These birds may have been residents of this abbey since its foundation. It’s hard to imagine a more desirable and secure spot for them

Jackdaws, with their undertaker-black plumage and beady-eyed stare, are still considered by some, of a superstitious mindset, to be birds of evil omen. So too, perhaps, by the white canons of the Premonstratensian order who occupied this abbey until its dissolution by Henry VIII. The sights and sounds we witnessed here this evening might have seemed to them to signal the onset of the apocalypse.

Roosts of jackdaws suddenly erupted from crowns of trees in the valley of the River Tees, then coalesced into a vast flock of more than 100, circling the abbey in a swirling danse macabre. It’s hard to avoid anthropomorphism when these innately sociable birds take to the air like this, often at the end of blustery winter afternoons. It seems like a collective expression of their sheer enjoyment of flight. Earthbound, we watched as they soared on updraughts and rode turbulence that swirled around the walls of the ruins.

Continue reading…
Source: The Guardian
Country diary: jackdaws break the monastic silence