Sunday, 6 June 2010

The Cuckoo & The Plug.

Cuckoo. Pete Woodruff.

Not the worlds greatest photograph of a Cuckoo but probably the only one I'll ever have the chance of taking, this one - a juvenile - was on Birk Bank a few years ago being fed by a Meadow Pipit one of the four top host species the others being Reed Warbler, Dunnock, and Pied Wagtail. I stayed with this bird for some time but never did manage a photograph of the Meadow Pipit as it came back time after time with food for this large young bird with the gaping mouth, the second rate equipment I use to take photographs these days doesn't facilitate a speedy action unfortunately.

The Cuckoo is one of our best known summer visitors, like the Swallow and the Robin it is traditionally the bird just about everyone knows and can identify, it arrives back in the UK from its winter quarters during late April and early May. But over the past  25 years breeding Cuckoos in the UK have dropped by at least two-thirds and questions are being asked why, could it be that the host species are breeding earlier thereby reducing the number of nests available for the Cuckoo to parasitize, another question is related to the availability of prey items like (mainly caterpillars) during the breeding season, or a worsening of conditions along their migration routes, or on wintering grounds in West Africa which is where Cuckoos breeding in the UK go to during the winter period. 

I've heard four Cuckoos this summer so far in the areas of, Harrisend, Birk Bank, Cross of Greet, and Middlewood in Roeburndale....I wonder how many I'll hear/see in 2011.

And the plug!....

Blackburnian Warbler. Mike Watson.

Well for starters....beat this one for being a little gem, seen and photographed by Mike Watson on his Upper Texas Coast trip in April this year. Mike has written a fully comprehensive and detailed account with some excellent images of a fantastic visit to this part of the US which I enjoyed looking at and reading....I think you will too.


kirstallcreatures said...

I enjoyed your post on the cuckoo Pete, I'd be happy to have taken that pic as Ive never actually seen one, just heard. I bet that was a wonderful sight to see. Linda

Warren Baker said...

I don't think earlier nesting will be the cause of Cuckoo decline Pete. The Cuckoo's were well late on my patch this year, and the Dunnocks had already hatched young. The Cuckoo just parasitized the second brood :-). More to do with Habitat destruction of the parasitized species and there being fewer of them.

Pete Woodruff said...

Yes probably a first and last event for me to see and photograph the juvenile I reckon Linda, more heard than seen though I have one or two.

Warren, your last suggestion is probably nearer the mark I agree, though a few factors are being taken into account and looked into hopefully.

Many thanks to both for looking in and commenting.