This morning I heard the first cuckoo of spring at the secret campsite and its a song to lift the spirits. It reminds us that these marauding tykes have returned from afar ready to pillage the locals.
Whilst its great news for us, as an announcement of the summer ahead, its a bit of a blow to the local population of dunnocks and meadow pipits. These little bird have to endure the incessant raids on their nests. These lightning forays are coupled with the ejection of perhaps the whole brood of eggs. But only once the fledgling cuckoo is big enough to turf the eggs out.
Its a bit of a dilemma for us humans. Afterall they’re red status on the wildlife and coservation list. But empathy for the host birds sets us up with a slightly negative view of the cuckoo. This is compounded by u refering to the unhinged as being cuckoo. Quite why, is beyone me as they are pretty smart birds.
The UK has around 15,000 breedling pairs of cuckoos. How many of theses stay in sussex is beyond me. Here at the secret campsite we only ever seems to have a couple hanging out nearby. We’ve got lots more campers than cuckoos.
Cuckoos are about the same size as a dove. We get a few collared doves knocking around in the area although sadly no Turtle doves as yet, despite our best efforts. Youll need to head to Knepp to see these little visitors . Charlie and his wife have created a fantastic space for these birds to thrive and its great that you can go camping in sussex and hear wild turtle doves.
The cuckoos at the secret campsite
But back to the cuckoos at the campsite. Its always quite exciting trying to work out where they are hooting from. Once identified, its great fun to try and spot them. To date I have only ever seen one that I can confirm. All the others i have claimed are probably pigeons. although they do have qute a hawk like look to them.
The secret campsites shold be a great sanctuary for these birds as not only do we have heaps of dunnocks here but we also encourage lots of caterpillars into the camping areas and these are a big part of their diet. I found this fantastic video of exactly this happening so have a quick look and ill keep my eyes peeled around the campsite in the vain hope i can capture some similarly brilliant footage.
Tragically i haven’t taken a photo of a cuckoo so youll have to make do with another sign of spring….
.some apple blossom