Investigating the rookery

Rooks tend to take a look around the rookery on calm days in winter. Sometimes a few and sometimes many come by and hang out in the trees. On Sunday there were just a few around lunchtime. It was very cold, pre-thaw and the wind was starting to build.

RookeryRooksThere are just six nests left in the rookery after the autumn and winter gales.

New year Rooks


This is an image from last summer. I’ve been going through photos and came across this which I’m quite pleased with. New year, new rook season. I’m not sure that I’m going to recount all the rookeries again this year, however, I think some more behavioural posts and a comparison of dates for the three Harray rookeries would be a useful activity.  Our own rookery may be in some jeopardy this year as our neighbour is planning some building work, if the rooks move it will be interesting to see if the other local rookeries increase to accommodate them.


More survey work

On Saturday I went out to Orphir and counted the rookery at Midland which a visitor had counted from a distance the previous week. Getting in under the trees made a very significant difference and I counted 137 nests. I checked the nearby historical sites in Orphir as well, at The Gyre and that area, but there were no rooks there.


Midland, Orphir

Two Orkney birders kindly checked a couple of sites for me, many thanks to DS for counting all the Kirkwall rooks, I was planning to finish that on Tuesday but no need now, very grateful. IC provided some useful information about the Tankerness rooks. All of this added to the database.

I now need to check on the Rousay and Hoy situations.


Counting this sort of thing is a problem….


The rookery at Midland, Orphir from a distance.


At the moment I’m trying to survey all the Orkney rookeries. This has been initiated by the death of Eric Meek who was one of the organisers of the last survey of rooks in the county in 2010 (see historic Orkney data page) and by an enquiry from Mark Cocker, author of Crow Country. Mark has found a significant recent decline of rooks in Norfolk at rookeries that he surveyed for Crow Country, he is now investigating if this decline is UK wide. I’ve posted where I’ve got to with the survey on the 2017 page here.


The Willows, Kirkwall

The Old Nisthouse rookery is currently at 55 nests and one bundle of sticks. I heard young in the nest yesterday but other pairs are still collecting large sticks, so still building substantially and several pairs are collecting lining materials morning and evening. There was a dead rook under the rookery yesterday, as the breeding season progresses the strain tells on the adults and I usually find small numbers of dead or injured birds.

Rooks and jackdaws roosting

Rooks were around the rookery on Christmas day and roosted that night. There was occasional roosting into the New Year. New Year’s morn Jackdaws, in some numbers, were heard leaving the roost, Rooks were not thought to have roosted that night.

Over Christmas one adult Rook was hanging around the steading and was still present on New Year’s Day, it was not too well.