Calling All Cuckoos

By Andrew Fraser


It is a warm spring morning at Long Meadow, on the bank above the meadow the bee flies are hovering with their high pitched hum at the base of the old crab apple. At the Knapp a kingfisher gives its high pitched call as it swoops close over Pivany Bridge. The pool in the middle of Hunthouse Wood is filled with male frogs croaking as they vie for the few females present. Spring is always the best time to hear wildlife. Yet something is missing, something we have taken for granted, until suddenly it isn't there.

No sound epitomises Spring more than the call of the cuckoo, can a Spring be Spring without them? Soon we may have no choice as the British Trust for Ornithology reports a national decline of 29% over the last 25 years. However, I am sure that this hides a much greater loss in Worcestershire where reductions in numbers of host species for the cuckoo such as dunnock, pied wagtail and meadow pipit have occurred. This may be combined with the decline of the favourite food of adult cuckoos - big hairy caterpillars such as the garden tiger moth - or problems of habitat loss in central Africa where they over winter.

We would like to find out how many cuckoos there are in Worcestershire, recording them through the spring and summer.

You can help by providing records of cuckoos anywhere in the county. Sightings or just hearing them calling, both give an indication of where they occur, especially if you hear them calling regularly in the same area, suggesting they have set up a territory. Only the males 'cuckoo'; the females have a lovely bubbling call, so you can separate them in the records.

Phone in records to the Trust office 01905 754919 when you hear them (there is a special form to hand to be filled in when a phone call is received), or keep records and send them to us later in the summer or send in for a recording form that you can return. We need the following information for each time you see or hear a cuckoo:

Date of record(s)
Location (grid reference or description of where heard e.g. 1/2 mile north of Hall Farm, Naunton Beachamp).
Number of times heard at that location
Male or female
Any other information. e.g. habitat where heard
Your name, address and telephone number.

cuckoo....cuckoo......cuckoo.......cuckoo.........its Andrew!

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