Cuckoo. Photo: Tim Melling


I’ve spent the last couple of days with the World Land Trust at the BTO HQ in Thetford (thank you! BTO). There was a meeting of partners from across the world (mostly Latin America but also Vietnam, Malaysia, India and Madagascar) and so I was seeing images of Jaguars,  Orangutans and a wealth of trogons and parrots in a series of very inspiring presentations. But occasionally my mind went back to Stanwick Lakes and how spring might be unfolding now that the warm weather seems to have arrived.

So, this morning I was taking my regular walk and noticing a significant upturn in bird song from spring arrivals; there were many more Sedge Warblers and more Willow Warblers as well as my first Reed Warblers of the year and my first Cuckoo.

200524 April
200623 April
200826 April
200925 April
201117 April
201320 April
201413 April
201514 April
201821 April

There is something special about hearing your first Cuckoo of the year.  Mine today is around the time that I would expect from previous years (although there is a suggestion that dates have crept earlier in recent years from my data).

A woman walking her dog asked whether I’d seen anything interesting and I replied with ‘Cuckoo’ to which she said that she had heard Cuckoo too, and they had been here for over two weeks – with complete confidence. Now, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether you believe her or not – but I surely do not.

I still haven’t seen my first House Martin of 2018 yet. They seemed to have a bad year in 2017 and I wonder what their numbers will be this year…?

And it’s time to start looking up for Swifts too.

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18 Replies to “Cuckoo!”

  1. I heard my first cuckoo on Monday (Lincolnshire). I guess it's possible your dog walker heard one last week.

    1. Sadly, he’s not got to our part of Lincs yet, however, first Martins in village spotted on Friday. Usually arrive at our house around the 24th with Swallows a couple of days behind. Everything crossed!

  2. First cuckoo on Otmoor heard pm 15th and three calling there today
    Our first from the house heard yesterday morning, 20th, in nearby wood. Gropper also reeling away on Otmoor. Really feels like spring at last!

  3. ps Mark, did you know there is a threat to Otmoor that a major road called an Expressway, from Oxford to Cambridge, is proposed and that one of the three options drives between two sections of the Reserve. This would almost certainly make the reserve defunct. It is apparently the route suppprted bu OCC.
    There is a Petition on the Government site against it with more detail.

      1. Here it is
        There's a link to a website, click on 'more details'.

    1. Hello Richard,

      Re: threat to RSPB Otmoor from the Oxford to Cambridge Expressway... I have investigated this, and I believe it to be untrue.

      Of the three options, A is well to the south-east of the RSPB reserve, and both B and C have a hole in the corridor where the reserve is located. I think that the Defence Training Estate at Otmoor is also skirted, but it does come damn close with either of those options.

      Difficult land to build a motorway across, and both a flood and fog high-risk area, so hardly suitable for high speed vehicles.

      Oxford to Cambridge Expressway

  4. First cuckoo for me today too, at Lee Valley, together with first whitethroats. Fabulous.

  5. I was down south today and called in at Little Paxton where I had my first Cuckoo (plus my first Nightingale and Lesser Whiethroat). While I was down south the first Cuckoo was seen on my local moors in Yorkshire.

  6. First cuckoo today (Sunday) whilst doing my Upper Thames Valley wader survey near Wytham. Sadly no Curlew yet; overflying oystercatcher the sole wader.

  7. According to BirdGuides, the earliest singing male this year was recorded at Bough Beech Reservoir in Kent on 11th March.

  8. I haven't heard a Cuckoo yet, despite several very long walks around Fenns and Whixall Moss NNR, where I'd heard a Cuckoo on 18 April for the previous 3 years. I know of 3 reliable hearings, 2 likely from the same Cuckoo, but I get the impression that these birds were just briefly stopping over.

    Not seen a House Martin either. Although it is only within the last few days that I've started seeing a few Swallows on the wires outside the local farms, and their numbers are still low. I've been seeing passing Swallows over water for nearly 2 weeks.

    However, I did see my first Odonata yesterday (Large Red Damselfly) so I'm hoping to see some Hobbies on the Moss within the next 7-10 days.

  9. Singleton swifts have been reported in at least 10 counties since the first report from Lancashire on 4th April.
    More remarkably for this late migrant, a swift entered a web-cammed nest box on a house in Bristol and stayed there overnight between 21-22 April.

    Of course the main bulk of the birds won't arrive until early May.
    I can't wait!

    Ps. Almost 50 events across the UK are now planned to take place in the first UK Swift Awareness Week to be held between 16-23 June this summer.
    A post about this will appear on this blog a week or two beforehand but meanwhile should you want to see what's on offer visit the excellent 'Action for Swifts' blog and click on the Awareness Week logo on the events page and a map of the UK miraculously appears showing locations and full event details when you click on the 'swift' location image of your choice. There are a few more still in the pipeline.
    Also there's a feature article about swift biology in Bird Watching magazine this month, also with a plug for the week.

  10. Off topic, but worth a mention (I think)....

    Is it possible to make referenced URLs 'live' in comments? (ie. to include links)

    I keep noticing that people post very informative references (as above)...

    From WordPress:


    Some themes have been coded to allow HTML coding in comment boxes and some have not been coded to do so. Also note that each blogger sets up how many links they will allow to be posted without having the comment sent to the spam filter. The format of the link is as follows:

    Highlighted anchor text here


    So here goes... Does this work?

    Here is the link to the Government e-petition

  11. OK.

    I have successfully included a live URL (link) in a comment, so that the reader can go directly to the URL, rather than having to paste it in... good.

    ... But in explaining HOW to do so, even within blockquotes (to prevent the example HTML being executed) WordPress has gone and executed my example (instead of just printing it!)... bad.

    Let me try another way..

    The format of the link is as follows:

    'LESS-THAN sign'a href="URL goes here"'GREATER-THAN sign'Highlighted anchor text here''LESS-THAN sign''Forward slash'a'GREATER-THAN sign'

    Or, if this works!, the format of the link is as follows:

    <!--Highlighted anchor text here-->

  12. The format of the link is as follows:

    'LESS-THAN sign'a href="URL goes here"'GREATER-THAN sign'Highlighted anchor text here''LESS-THAN sign''Forward slash'a'GREATER-THAN sign'

    ...OK 🙂

    Or, if this works!, the format of the link is as follows:

    ...EPIC Fail 🙁

    Try again.

    The format of the link is as follows:

    [a href="URL goes here"]Highlighted anchor text here[/a]

    Replace every [ with

    Surely, that will work?

    1. I should give up. Defeated by HTML...

      Replace every [ with a LESS-THAN sign
      Replace every ] with a GREATER-THAN sign


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