Scotland Lane, looking back towards Dunham's Farm

I took a walk up to the Cheesden valley again. Whilst walking in parallel to a scarp along Scotland Lane, two rooks fly in front of me towards the hill. 

They look as though they are going to fly into the hill itself, until the first rook angles itself into the wind, then circles at a stand-still until it faces the way it came. It then soars upwards twenty metres, turning as it rises, so that it's above the scarp and facing the rookery to where it is heading.

It then passes above the hill to its destination. The second rook waits until the first has taken the invisible elevator and then carries out the same manoeuvre: to the hill, turn around, use the wind to elevate, turn back around at new height then fly along home.

The Rook Elevator

On other occasions the rooks from these parts have mesmerised me with their light play in the surrounding fields. Their ungainly silhouettes eyeing the sky then tugging at the earth. Ungainly until a sentinel on the outer edges spots my presence and then, whoosh, they’re off in an orchestrated pattern. They swirl upwards like confetti caught in an updraft.

Then there’s the most beautiful sight.

As they move onwards and upwards the corvids are caught in the raking light. It isn’t all at once - intermittently there’s a flashing and flickering with lustred ripostes. For a millisecond, as each one passes through the light, they become white and glisten like polished coal. I'm reminded of the time I saw the sun flounce off the cores of black knapped flint on a church wall in Essex. The effect is like the sparkling of fireworks on a darkened horizon. Sharp, shimmering, reflective flecks of light. Each creature is a speck, each speck is white then black moving upwards, white-black, white-black, into the sky.

Today the rooks are padding the field beneath Dunham and there’s only the merest hint of light. The atmosphere is saturated. Fog banks extend down from Whittle Pike into the Rossendale Valley. The fog is clearing over towards Cheesden Valley and, as I walk along Scotland Lane, I see the first evidence that the day is about to begin: a soft pink glow in a rogue cloud above Wind Hill.

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