A good year for Cuckoos?

By Vogelartinfo (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
By Vogelartinfo (Own work) [GFDL 1.2 (http://www.gnu.org/licenses/old-licenses/fdl-1.2.html)], via Wikimedia Commons
I’ve heard lots of Cuckoos this year.  It seems like a good year for them – what do you think?

Last year, around now, I headed off to the USA to research my book on Passenger Pigeons and I had had two records of Cuckoo up until this date (I know, because Birdtrack lets me find out) whereas this year I have had 7 (and actually there are another couple that haven’t made it to Birdtrack yet).

My first Cuckoo record this year was my earliest ever, since Birdtrack recording began anyway, at Stanwick Lakes on 13 April (which is pretty early for me as I have already pointed out).

My first Cuckoo record was before any of the BTO satellite-tagged Cuckoos returned to the UK – quite a while before. In fact, I had heard my second Cuckoo of the year, on 19 April, before any of the BTO laggards got back.  I wonder who ‘my’ Cuckoos were? They obviously weren’t Waller, Chris, Skinner, Livingstone or any of the other Cuckoos we have come to know by name.

The Birdtrack site suggests that Cuckoos are being recorded a little more often in people’s bird lists this year than in the last couple – it’s too early to tell, but a little bit of fun to speculate.

Last year, in May, I added Black-billed and Yellow-billed Cuckoos to my life list.  I won’t be seeing them this year.



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15 Replies to “A good year for Cuckoos?”

  1. Mark

    I've collected over 25 Peak District locations in the last fortnight. Can't guarantee they 're all still there and different birds, but they're widespread this year. Details here http://wp.me/srHPw-birds


  2. When I first moved to my corner of Shropshire, we heard one every year, but from about 2003 they got less reliable. A couple of years ago we had a welcome return for one spring, but the last couple of years nothing again. The BTO work is beginning to show that they are very site faithful, so how easy is it to attract them back into white space?

    I've long had a pet theory that of the three main host types, it's the cuckoos that target dunnock that have declined the most. But no evidence to support this.

  3. Totally agree with John. In my experience cuckoos hosted by reed warblers seem to have fared best, those targetting meadow pipits have declines but the 'wider countryside' cuckoos have declined drastically.

    Having said that I did hear one yesterday in Wales that I can only assume belonged to this subset.

  4. Hopefully a great year for Cuckoo with another book out sponsored by Cleyspy and the Broads Authority with a satellite tagged bird of the same name of the bird in the book. Hopefully he will do as well as 'Chris' in his 3rd year with great information coming in for the BTO and everyone who loves Cuckoos.

  5. Two for me Mark- which is two more than last year.One at a likely spot on Martin Down, Hants the other on Hampstead Heath. It's sad they have become sought after birds let's hope for a bumper 2014

  6. One in Beds on woodland on the Sandy side of Biggleswade Common then on farmland on the Biggleswade side. Quite likely the same bird? Always a delight to hear. Let's hope for a good year, followed in time by a sustained recovery.

  7. Male and female cuckoos together ( both calling) at Avon Wildlife Trust's Blake's Pools reserve in North Somerset this morning. The first female that I have heard for several years. Looking for reed warbler nests.

  8. P Brash makes a key comment that in the 'wider' countryside (perhaps this is in reference to the wider lowland countryside) they have vanished. I've not been to the classic reedbed sites this spring but have done a lot of field work that has included woodland, plenty of semi-natural grasslands and scrub areas with thick hedges, fens and largish heath area and not heard a single cuckoo.
    The BTO data is clear and if I think back even 17 + years ago when I moved to the south west, although anecdotal, the sound was still common.
    The positive this year (at least where I am) appears to be willow warblers - more warbling this year than in the last 3 or 4.

  9. I agree. Four different cuckoo' s calling today on my Exmoor walk. Also three on a different area of the moor on Wednesday

  10. Agreed and interesting that it's been picked up Mark. Any ideas why returning bird numbers are up ? They certainly are in my patch. Previously numbers seemed very low but seeing and hearing cuckoo (s ?) frequently.

    1. kevin - I didn't hear one as I passed that way on Wednesday - aren't there an awful lot of pheasants out on the moors?

  11. I walk around the s.w edge of the new forest and have now heard three here, also one in silchester, Berkshire, two weeks ago and one near 6p handley in Dorset. Seems a lot more than usual for me. I even saw one tonight calling whilst in flight.


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