Wednesday, 13 May 2015

And Then It Flies Away

Cuckoo: photo by kind permission of Tom Lee (Flickr)

Some people would pay anything to hear the sound many fear we are losing from the British countryside. That's what the BTO (British Trust for Ornithology) thinks anyway: the bird research organisation is encouraging people to send a donation by text if they hear a cuckoo this spring!

There's such anxiety in thinking something so familiar and iconic might disappear that hearing one of these summer migrants is cause for celebration. The woods were silent the other day as my Granny quoted the rhyme I grew up with: 'The cuckoo comes in April, sings its song in May, tips its tune in the middle of June and then it flies away.' Anxiety has a tendency to enter one's dreams. I thought I was dreaming, but woke to the soft, far away sound of a cuckoo at dawn. I've spread the word among my dog walker neighbours to listen out for the two I've heard in the area over the last three days. I'm hoping we might hear them when I lead twelve bird people on a local walk tomorrow...

Tom Lee, a photographer I discovered on Flickr, had a stroke of luck after his persistence paid off. He writes 'Another view of the cuckoo from yesterday. I've been hearing them (and seeing them fleetingly) for a few weeks now and as it was sunny and warm yesterday I thought I'd try my luck. So, on with the dull  "country colours" clothing and armed with my long lens I ventured to the normal spot where I see them. This one, however was not where I'd seen them last year but I could hear him calling so walked in the general direction. He was obligingly still on the wires so I took some shots, walked on 5 paces, took some more, walked on 5 paces etc, keeping close to the fence line all the time. He let me get quite close and as I stayed still he flew back and forth between the wire and tree in which I pictured him yesterday. He was still there when I moved off. It's what I believe is called a result...'. 

Thank you Tom for kind permission to publish the cuckoo photo at the top of this post.

Photo from British Trust for Ornithology's cuckoo tracking project

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