Sunday 27 April 2014

Winter is over when you hear the first cuckoo

Cuckoo flowers are easier to photograph than cuckoos
This year I heard my first  Cuckoo on Thursday 24th April, its arrival coincided with the first Cuckoo  flower of course. There are earlier signs of Spring such as the arrival of the Glasgow University geology students in March and Calmac's summer timetable.

On the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) website the "Bird track" map showed the most northerly cuckoo report on 24th in Northumberland so we are ahead of the game. Despite Cuckoos now being on the red list, "endangered" after a 60% drop in numbers since the 1960s here in NW Scotland numbers have increased slightly.

One of the reasons cited for cuckoo decline is of course modern agriculture; lower insect numbers due to pesticide spraying has reduced host species numbers; meadow pipit and dunnock, in England and presumably S. Scotland. Here with crofting agriculture, bogs, upland heath  and scrub woodland the host species still flourish as does the cuckoo's main food species the hairy caterpillar.

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