Paperbacks: Crow Country, by Mark Cocker

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The Independent Culture

A "long cylinder" of roosting birds over his Norfolk home sends Cocker on a quest to discover the science, myth and lore behind the crow family's clouds and calls. Nature writing at its best (and Cocker is a leader of the British pack) illuminates the strangeness of familiar sights and sounds. Crow Country gazes deep into the everyday magic of roosting corvids, but mysteries persist: "The journey, in truth, has been everything".

Cocker also turns his trip into a mirror of the self, to justify his focused passion for a "single species". "You want to watch it," Richard Mabey tells him; "you're becoming a nerd". If nerdishness can breed prose this graceful, many other writers should join the flock.