This week marked the arrival of some familiar spring birds. A cuckoo was seen and heard on the reserve on Monday and it's glorious calls have been heard daily by our visitors since. The cuckoo, with its unmistakable 'cuck-oo' call, is a dove-sized bird with a long tail and pointed wings. It arrives in our country around this time of year and the adults will depart late August, juveniles will hang around until late September before heading back to Africa for the winter. The cuckoo has unusual breeding habits. Females will lay their eggs in the nests of birds such as reed warblers and dunnocks. The cuckoo chick usually hatches first and will push out the eggs of the host parents. The unsuspecting bird will continue to feed the cuckoo chick, even though it'll grow to twice the size of the parents! The cuckoo's favourite food are hairy caterpillars and will devour even the poisonous ones, as they have strong stomach linings to digest the bugs.
Cuckoo - Graham Parry
The first swift of the year was also sighted this week. It won't be long before it's friends catch up and they will be dancing and screaming across their skies once more. It's not too late to put up a swift box if you want to encourage them to nest on your houses. You can build your own or buy one from our shop (we have a few available at Dungeness). With very cold weather this April, we worry about our summer insect-eating birds, as there isn't much food for them about at the moment. Hopefully we are due some warmer winds which will lure the insects out of their hiding spots to help feed our hungry wildlife!
Swifts - Ben Andrew
On Sunday we had lots of visitors witness the white-tailed sea eagle fly over. A HUGE bird and not easily missed, it was an amazing spectacle for the visitors of the reserve. The white-tailed eagle is a reintroduced bird to the Isle of White as part of a reintroduction project. They are satellite tagged and movements can be monitored here (and for more information on the project). Usually they are flying at such altitudes we cannot see them, but this one put on a show for us! Always keep your eyes peeled for one when you visit because you never know when it might pop in again.
White-tailed eagle with gulls - Corinne Pardey
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