• Waiting for the Cuckoo

    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.

  • Last Cuckoo of 2010

    Many people note when they hear the first Brampton Cuckoo of the year (this year I noted 23rd April – but I know this was not as early as some people), but does anybody note the last heard? Late June – the 28th June to be precise, during an morning walk with the whippets, a Cuckoo called and I have not heard one since. No doubt the bird’s job done and thoughts about returning south are returning. An old rhyme sums it up

    In April I open my bill
    In May I sing night and day
    In June I change my tune
    In July far far I fly
    In August away I must

    The June tune is a strange cross between a clucking and bubbling which the Cuckoo produces in flight. I am told it is the female Cuckoo which babbles, so we will leave this one there.

    In Brampton the favoured haunt of the Cuckoo is the woodland and scrub which form the river margins. The shape of the valley and the scattered woodlands help to bounce the call around allowing the bird to cover a large and obviously fruitful territory.

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