Today, out walking the dog near Berthem, I saw a phenomenon I have quite frequently read about but never before seen. The collective noun for rooks is ‘a parliament’. This is reportedly because rooks have been known to gather in fields and listen to one of their fellows apparently speechmaking. More far-fetched stories claim that on occasion rooks will ‘try’ one of their number for wrongdoings and even execute (through a mob attack) the unfortunate bird if found guilty. Well, today I didn’t see a rook trial and nor did I see an image quite as perfect (the ‘speaker’ perched on a post) as that in John Samuel Raven’s picture, but I did nevertheless see a rooks’ parliament. In this case the birds had congregated in a frozen field and formed a rough circle and in the middle of the circle one bird was repeatedly cawing and crying, as if giving a speech. I would have taken a picture but the dog came running up and they of course flew away. Rooks are notoriously gregarious birds, living in colonies, and there must be some sort of explanation for this phenomenon.