A crow's life seems eventful

It sometimes seems to me that there are two Cotswolds. The deeply incised valleys with their springs cutting through the layers of limestone, clays and marls to form steep wooded slopes backed criss crossed by narrow lanes and holloways. then there is the open farmland on the flat and relatively level 'tops', which gently slope down to the east and Oxfordshire, and old drove roads amble between the stone walls and old hedges, with small hamlets and massive and mostly wealthy estates, where horses riding and polo are aids to the pursuits of pleasure.

The valleys, such as where we live, and which are the subject of most of my blips, are where poorer people have traditionally found homes and work and where the industrial nature of the wool trade was established using the energy of the rivers to power the mills since the twelfth century.

I drove three miles up the old road from Stroud to Bisley, which was the ancient centre of population since roman times in this area, with its own Hundred controlling the affairs of the area. I had dropped Helena to catch a bus to Cheltenham where she is combining a bit of work with attendance at the Folk Festival that is running all weekend. The steep road up the slope to the 'tops' above Stroud were awash with the run-off from the torrential rain of the last twenty-four hours, as it seems the land is saturated.

At the top of the hill, I passed Lypiatt Park, one of the old grand estates that fell on harder times after the First World War, when its twelve farms and related barns, fields, woods, hamlets and houses were all sold off in a massive auction. The road passed between the high stone wall of the main mansion (and what is left of its still extensive land) and a lower hedge combined with stone wall abutting the farmland that stretches into the distance. I noticed a couple of pheasants in the field's stubble and decided to stop there on my way back even though the rain was still very heavy and I wasn't dressed for the part of rainy wildlife photographer.

I was going to Bisley to the farm shop and after saying hello to the family members who were at the farm, I set off back. I saw the pheasants were quite near to the road, but were being mobbed by a mass of crows, although they didn't seem to be losing ground. I had to pull up and park on the road's verge and gingerly nipped across to the other side where I could look into the field, with an old brolly to try to protect my camera and me. But even though I was at least fifty yards from the pheasants, they took off on a run, each in different directions, whilst the crows headed off across to the far side of the field where an old copse allows them protection from marauders like me. I tracked the pheasants at first but because they were running away there wasn't much to see, except for a spray of water from their legs as they paddled across the field in the tracks that tractors had produced.

I then saw a partridge in the opposite direction also running for cover in another small piece of woodland at the edge of the field. In the end the crows seemed to settle down and I just watched their antics. I have been seeing large flocks of them in many places in the last few weeks and am beginning to understand there habits. When I was in the local Tesco store on Friday, I noticed hundreds of them flying round and round, before alighting for a few seconds in the tall trees of Stratford Park beside the old mill pond, and then setting off again with a raucous cacophany.

I like this picture of crows settled on the wire, some with their heads peeking up from the stubble and others flying in a line around the copse. A complex world quite undaunted by the inclement weather which forced me back to the car within minutes.

Sign in or get an account to comment.