This isn’t a science project with a terrible poster, just a blog post about one of our most distinctive summer migrants!

Now is a great time to come to Newport Wetlands where we have approximately 4 Cuckoos calling in various areas of the nature reserve. We saw one in the picnic area yesterday morning which then flew over to Perry Lane and started calling. They are a strange species, often described as “parasitic” due to their unusual breeding behaviour.

Cuckoos arrive in the UK in April or May after travelling from Sub-Saharan Africa. Female Cuckoos do not make a nest, but rather watch for a suitable host nest to lay their eggs. The most commonly used nests are those of Reed warblers, Dunnocks, and Meadow pipits but other species’ nests are also used.

 

Photo by Richard Brooks (rspb-images.com)

When the Cuckoo is ready to lay she will take an egg out of the chosen nest and lay her own in its place. She will then fly off with the other bird’s egg and eat it. The female Cuckoo can lay up to 25 eggs in a season in various host birds’ nests.

Once the egg is in the nest, it’s over to the host bird to incubate the Cuckoo egg, thinking it is one of their own. Cuckoo chicks hatch from the egg after 12 days, and the young Cuckoo is just as sneaky and violent as its mother – they will instinctively push other eggs or young out of the nest to ensure that they themselves will receive enough food from the host parents. This continues for almost three weeks until the young Cuckoo is ready to leave the nest – at which point the chick will be around three times the size of an adult Reed warbler – how do they not twig that something’s up?

The breeding Cuckoos will leave the UK in August, with the young following around a month later. The BTO has a fantastic Cuckoo tracking project which you can find out more about here. Cuckoos are a red list species because their population is declining rapidly.

Full list for this week:

Avocet, Bar headed goose, Bar tailed godwit, Bearded tit, Black tailed godwit, Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue tit, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Canada goose, Cetti's warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Common whitethroat, Coot, Cormorant, Cuckoo, Curlew, Dunlin, Gadwall, Garganey, Goldfinch, Grasshopper warbler, Great crested grebe, Great spotted woodpecker, Great tit, Greenfinch, Greenshank, Grey heron, House martin, Kestrel, Lapwing, Lesser whitethroat, Linnet, Little egret, Little grebe, Magpie, Mallard, Merlin, Moorhen, Mute swan, Oystercatcher, Pheasant, Pied wagtail, Pochard, Redshank, Redstart, Reed bunting, Reed warbler, Robin, Sand martin, Sedge warbler, Shelduck, Shoveler, Skylark, Song thrush, Spotted redshank, Stonechat, Swallow, Teal, Tufted duck, Wheatear, Whimbrel, White wagtail, Wigeon, Willow warbler, Wren, Yellow wagtail.

Fox, Green veined white, Peacock butterfly, Small tortoiseshell, Weasel.

PS There’s a Spoonbill at Goldcliff right now!

Anonymous