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Crow Country

Crow Country

Mark Cocker

Rooks and jackdaws are both members of the same bird family . To ornithologists the group is known as the corvids, to the layperson they are 'crows'. But to the Mark Cocker these two species have become a fixation and a way of life.

When he moved with his family to a rundown cottage in the Norfolk Broads he acquired first a naturalist's perfect home in the countryside, then the keys to a secret landscape. Twice a day flight-lines of rooks and jackdaws pass over the house on their way to a roost in the Yare Valley. Following them down to the river one winter's night, the author discovered a roiling, deafening flock of birds which rises at its peak to 40,000. From the moment he watched the multitudes blossom as a mysterious dark flower above the night woods, these gloriously commonplace birds were unsheathed entirely from their ordinariness.

Cocker goes in search of them, journeying from the cavernous, deadened heartland of South England to the hills of Dumfriesshire, experiencing spectacular failures alongside magical successes and epiphanies. Step by step he pieces together the complexities of the birds' inner lives, the historical depth of the British relationship with the rook and the unforeseen richness hidden in that sombre voice, a raucous crow song that he calls 'our landscape made audible'.

Crow Country is a prose poem in a long tradition of English pastoral writing. It is also a celebration of the Norfolk countryside, of its oceanic flatness, its immense skies and of the human intimacies which have shaped it from generation to generation. Yet the book is also a powerful restatement of the central importance of nature in human affairs. It asks us to recall that 'Crow Country' is not 'ours'. It's a landscape which we cohabit with thousands of other species and is all the richer for these complex fellowships. 224 pages.

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Softback £9.99

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