I had a job finding a copyright free image of a Cuckoo and I am not sure if the above images are of Cuckoos.
I once saw one at Dunstable Downs when I was there walking my Whippet. Actually my Whippet must have chased something and got lost. I phoned around and the police told me to go to the kennels at Dunstable. It was, by now quite dark and the policeman opened a kennel which appeared to be like a tunnel to me. I did not know what to do next as no dog came out. The policeman stood staring at me and I felt even more as if I were dog-napping. I called my dog and eventually he came out of the darkness to me. He must have run across a main road to the golf course where he was found and was then taken to the police station. So glad I got him back that day.
Anyway, I digress. I saw this rather large bird sitting on a branch at Dunstable Downs and it looked a silver grey colour. It was about the size of a Pigeon but most certainly was not a Pigeon. It made no sound and so I could not identify it.
It is the male Cuckoo that calls to the female. Maybe the one I saw was a female.
The Cuckoo is now on the RSPB endangered species list, which is very sad. the Cuckoo is a visitor to this country. Not only have the feeding opportunities dwindled but so have the nesting facilities. The female Cuckoo lays one egg in the nest of some unsuspecting bird. It is the little, unsuspecting bird that also had declined in numbers and nests. So the Cuckoo, no only has a job finding food but also a difficult time seeking out both a mate and a nest in which to lay its one egg.
The Cuckoo comes from Africa to the U K in our summer months and abroad it has been found that many birds are shot or netted on their migration route.
When I was about sixteen years of age I lived at Eastbourne, Sussex. Every Wednesday and Saturday afternoon I would walk along the South Downs to my Auntie’s house at Polegate. Once I heard a Cuckoo as I began my walk and I thought it was a lovely sound. However, by the time I had completed my walk and heard that bird going, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo for about two hours, I can tell you I felt like strangling the thing!
A friend of mine, a roofer, told me of his Cuckoo story. He was re-tiling a roof and he too heard the sound of a Cuckoo. He also thought it was a beautiful sound. But, by the end of his roof-tiling job he said that he could have easily shot the bird as it did not give up its relentless cry of cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo, cuckoo!
The word ‘cuckoo’ is often used to describe a ‘crazy’ person.
In the 1580s the word cuckoo is recorded as describing a ‘stupid person.’ Maybe because of its ceaseless monotone cry.
©Barbara Burgess May 2018
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