Monday, December 08, 2008

Alfred Hitchcock Time

While walking last week, I heard the strangest sound. It's hard to describe, but it's unlike the usual sounds I hear in the vineyard.

Les oiseaux.

Mostly what I hear, besides the wind, are tractor engines, the occasional barking dog (or deer), the braying of a local donkey, birdsong, and distant train whistles. But this sound was different. It was like the sound of someone brushing his hair very quickly, but muffled.

I looked up and saw this very large flock of black birds moving across the sky. I was hearing their wings beating. What a cool sound! I was able to get it together and take one photo of part of the flock. By the time I thought of taking a movie (with sound), they were too far gone.


  1. We have a large collection of those birds that hang out sometimes in the large quad behind my apartment. I could sit there for hours watching thousands of them swam like bees.

  2. The birds have been mental around here too! I've tried several times to stop the car and take photos, but the pesky sun kept getting in the way.
    Definitely reminds me of 'The Birds', which for some bizarre reason I saw in 6th grade in school. Imagine showing that film to 12 year olds; I always feel slightly uneasy when I see that many birds in one place!

  3. These will be Rooks, heading out from the rookery for a day of important Rook business in the fields (or heading home). That's a nice big flock. The Preuilly flock isn't allowed to get big enough to be heard like this, but I have heard starlings in formation in several places, and bees flying over (that's slightly unnerving, btw).

    ...and Walt...les belles fesses ! :-))

  4. Our neighbors are heading out to New Mexico soon to watch the bird migration there. I'm trying to talk Lewis into doing this sometime, but I don't think it's going to happen.

    We are going to Austin Friday to see grandson turn 1. Sometime we may get to go to the bridge there that has all the bats. That would be cool.

    I enjoyed reading your description of your morning of the birds.

  5. That's creepy... in a way...
    How cool though!

  6. In addition to large flocks of geese that spend the winters here...we also have large flocks of these larger black birds too. They seem to live in the cemetary that is next door to us.

  7. These birds look a little big to be Starlings [étourneaux]. As Susan says they're probably Rooks or Jackdaws [choucas]
    Ken and I saw two or three of them near that church in Vendôme last June

  8. I wondered if rooks were the same as "choucas" but hadn't looked yet. I saw some in the Sologne last year and then again with CHM in Vendôme, north of Blois.

  9. According to my Robert-Collins dictionary a Rook is "une corneille" or "un freux"; a Jackdaw is "un choucas." The Jackdaw is the smallest of the corvids.

  10. chm,
    thanks for the info. European starlings (etourneaux) are not well liked in the birding communities of the U.S. Invasive species. Very subjective a mon avis!

  11. justin, it is amazing to watch them swarm.

    duchess, they showed you The Birds in 6th grade? Wow...

    susan, you never disappoint! Rooks!

    evelyn, enjoy the celebration!

    alewis, there are loads of geese around us, but they're mostly the domestic kind. One of these years I'm going to cook one!

    chm, ken, cheryl, i'm getting confused and that's making me all verklempt!

  12. katia, but it was amazing. I wasn't creeped out at all.

  13. Hi, Walt.
    We're (happily) working our way back through your blogs and came across this one of the flying rooks (members of the crow family).
    Recently, PBS aired a great episode on the world's most intelligent bird, the crow. There's a very large population of them here in Seattle, where much of the documentary was filmed. The crow's skills of facial recognition, highly developed language, use of tools, counting abilities, family structure, powers of deductive reasoning, etc. set it apart from all other birds in the world. Although the crow doesn't have the largest brain by size, it is by far the smartest.

    The 50 minute "Nature" episode will give you even more appreciation for these magnificent birds!
    Vive Les Corbeaux!

  14. dean, thanks for the link. I used to watch that show faithfully every Sunday night when I lived in SF. I'm glad you're enjoying the archives.


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