Saturday, 3 April 2010

Next Term's Wildlife 4: Cuckoo

The fourth species many of the sessions should connect with next term is the Cuckoo. I'm afraid rather a theme is developing, as this is yet another species which has declined dramatically in the last 30 years. It is possible that the Cuckoo is declining because many of the species in which it lays its eggs are also in decline, but research is also ongoing to see if the reasons for the population slump lie in its wintering grounds in Africa. It doesn't seem too long ago that the Cuckoo was one of the most noticeable sounds of summer, but there are now many country people who no longer hear it at all. It has always been easier to hear than see a Cuckoo, but the Friday classes are going to a location where in the last 2 summers it has been possible to see 4 Cuckoos at the same time, and one of them being an hepatic female. Only a tiny proportion of females are a rufous brown colour - similar to a female Kestrel - but the site we are visiting has proved very reliable for them. Everyone knows the obvious facts about Cuckoos, so I only want to mention that we should hear both the unusual bubbling call of the female & also the even more odd sound of the males 'gowking'.

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