I heard a cuckoo calling this morning……..It is now quite unusual to hear this summer visitor to our shores with its characteristic call. When I was a child in the 1950s we heard cuckoos every day in early summer, but that has all changed.
In the past forty years there has, apparently, been a 65% drop in the numbers of cuckoos in England. Only some 15,000 breeding pairs across the UK in total. The position in Scotland and Wales is much better than in England because, research tells us, their cuckoos travel a different route when they migrate.
Cuckoos are strange birds in that they lay their eggs in other birds nests, rather than building their own and incubating their eggs themselves. And they are prolific, laying up to 25 eggs each summer. I guess because of their high-risk hatching and rearing strategy!
They migrate each autumn to their winter quarters in the jungles of the Congo, and return across the Sahara the following spring travelling at incredible heights to catch the high winds.
There is a lot of superstition surrounding cuckoos. If you hear a cuckoo from your bed, illness will come, it is said! Hearing a cuckoo before breakfast also brings bad luck.
So it was a good thing that I was up at 5.30am this morning, had my breakfast early and only then heard the cuckoo calling…