|Photograph by Sergey Yeliseev (available under a Creative Commons Licence)|
"The Cuckoo comes in April, sings his song in May, changes his tune in the month of June, and then he flies away".
"The humble British cuckoo has been added to the ‘Red List’ of the UK’s most threatened birds. Numbers of the famous singing bird have dropped by 59 per cent since the 1960s, with only 10,000-20,000 breeding pairs migrating from Africa.
Experts predict the drop in the number of caterpillars could be partly to blame for the near-extinction of the cuckoo, as the bird relies on these for its food. The Red List aims to highlight the birds most in need of conservation measures." (Virgin Media)
I have heard a cuckoo only four or five times during my life. On Tuesday I went with a group of children to a Worcestershire Wildlife Reserve again. On arrival we heard the Cuckoo almost straight away, he was calling his little heart out. I did not expect to see him. One of the children spotted him through binoculars and managed to point him out to me. It was sitting at the top of a Hawthorn tree, throwing his head back and calling like crazy trying to find a mate. We had him in our sight for over ten minutes and when one of the children made a 'Cuckoo' call he actually flew closer. The reserve is a perfect habitat for Cuckoos as there are nesting Reed Warblers. The Cuckoo empties the nests of smaller species of bird such as warblers, lays its eggs and leaves their chicks to be reared by the exhausted 'Foster Parent' smaller birds. Again it was nice to see the children on task and fascinated by the wildlife. We also saw Ducklings, Coot chicks and a Little Grebe. The 'Prima Ballerina' from last week was the one to spot and call the Cuckoo this week, he also made me laugh when we got off the bus back at school, he was quite cross as another child bumped into him, so he said in a Macho voice 'Oi, watch my 'Forget me nots' will ya!' He had picked a small sample of wild 'Forget me nots' to add to our display and was guarding them safely. I am sure we will all remember trips like these. Magic! I am hoping in the half term holiday to take my own kids, a couple of jam sandwiches, a flask of tea and some binoculars. It is a bit like owning up to reading 'Knitting Fiction' I am somewhat of a 'Closet Twitter' and have always liked watching birds! You heard it here first!!