hawks learn to fly 32/72

working as part of a ‘Japanese 72 season micro-climate’ artist collaborative initiative within Treesisters)

Japanese season called ‘Shosho’/ lesser heat, 7th July until 22nd July .
Micro climate ‘hawks learn to fly’ 17th – 22nd July.

We are staying, for this month away, in the most beautiful, old, Scottish ‘castle’!

Crookston House Bed and Breakfast.

A family-run old estate house. My first cousin and his extended family have taken on the enormous task of keeping it running, with a good bit of help from the remaining previous generation too!

While not cheap I highly recommend it as a great place to stay (only 18 miles outside Edinburgh) or perhaps, as a special treat stop-off, just off the A7. It really is quite a stunning location.

It has been the most wonderful oasis to return to after the noise and grind of the city streets.

Moving from one extreme to the next….from pavement to palace.

The extensive grounds are totally magical and full of wildlife and stunning mature trees. Some of which I shared previously. Daily I encounter deer, hare and squirrels. I have seen hosts of butterflies (including migratory painted ladies) and wood pigeons are everywhere. The pond is full of tiny ‘froglets’….but what has caught my attention most has been the extensive rookery behind the house.

Large stands of magnificent Wellingtonia pines dominate the landscape behind the house.
They stand at the edge of a woodland.
There is a group of huge Scots pines in the centre of this and every dawn and evening the rooks come to life screaming and cackling as they launch or come in to roost.
I tried for ‘crow dipper sprouts’ micro-climate to capture this spectacle, but failed…so I thought, for this micro season, I’d venture out again and try and capture this spectacle….

These are the pictures from the second walk out into the woods, this time in the evening…..

The sunset catching on the red bark of the Wellingtonia….

I sat on the ground and waited in the undergrowth for the rooks to come.
Then I was very startled by a deer buck jumping up and barking loudly very near to where I was sitting, hidden in the undergrowth, and I decided to stand, as I did not fancy getting gored.
In fact, as it got darker and darker, I experienced a kind of fear creeping over me.
That ‘fear of the wild’ that I very rarely experience.
Fantasies of the rooks attacking me, the strength in their beaks and claws, if they should decide to do so.
The deer stabbing me with it’s antlers, jabbing with its powerful hooves…..I began talking out loud to the forest, assuring it that I came in peace!

I felt suddenly so very vulnerable standing there in the gloaming in my peach T-shirt….very soft shelled…

I needn’t have worried.
As it turned out the rooks were more frightened of me. Possibly as some farmers still deter rooks by firing at them?
They took several fly overs, but seemed unwilling to come in to roost until I had gone….I think in this clip I can hear the young in the nests calling to the parent birds as they go over, but then falling silent, almost on a cawed command.
It became too dark to keep filming and I thought I had better go back down to the house and leave them in peace.

Rooks roost…..almost! from Kat Robertson on Vimeo.

I returned with another fistful of ‘gifted’, beautiful, blue-black feathers from under the trees…for my hat and my collection. And their calls rang out as I got into bed…the rooks had finally felt safe enough to roost.

My beloved protest/street art bowler with the rooks feathers stuck in its brim.

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