© Mark Cocker 2013
Published by Vintage, part of Vintage Publishing
One night Mark Cocker followed the roiling, deafening flock of rooks and jackdaws which regularly passed over his Norfolk home on their way to roost in the Yare valley. From the moment he watched the multitudes blossom as a mysterious dark flower above the night woods, these gloriously commonplace birds were unsheathed entirely from their ordinariness. They became for Cocker a fixation and a way of life.
Cocker goes in search of them, journeying from the cavernous, deadened heartland of South England to the hills of Dumfriesshire, experiencing spectacular failures alongside magical successes and epiphanies. Step by step he uncovers the complexities of the birds' inner lives, the unforeseen richness hidden in the raucous crow song he calls 'our landscape made audible'.
Crow Country is a prose poem in a long tradition of English pastoral writing. It is also a reminder that 'Crow Country' is not 'ours': it is a landscape which we cohabit with thousands of other species, and these richly complex fellowships cannot be valued too highly.
Shortlisted for the 2008 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction