St George’s day, 23rd April, came and went without the expected call of the Cuckoo. Alex and I thought we heard a single call last Tuesday evening (19th April), but we heard no follow-up call to prove it to ourselves – at best it may have been one of those birds heading for a more northerly home.
Upon checking my records I discovered that their non-arrival was not unusual and in fact the Brampton Cuckoo has generally started calling nearly a week later. The local eighteenth century phenologist (or recorder of Indications of Spring), Robert Marsham from Stratton Strawless actually recorded an average date of 23rd April from 51 years of observations. His earliest record was 9th April and his latest being the 9th May.
More details of Robert Marsham’s observations are to be seen in a superb exhibition at St Margaret’s Church at Stratton Strawless.