I went to the reserve mid-afternoon today and spent most of the time as usual along the 'office track' and up to Ernie Hemsley Vp. Sadly I missed the family scattering Paul Keenes' ashes on Sweeney Vp. After a couple of hours hearing two males singing and a female 'gawking' I went down to the electric fence gate to study the vegetation emerging from the murky water to see if I could catch a dragonfly pupating into the warm sunshine.
No luck there, but a male Cuckoo alighted on a Silver Birch a couple of hundred yards away and unusually, wasn't hidden in the thickening foliage. He cuckoo'd long and loud and I could see his open-beaked 'cuck' and his closed beak 'oo'. He also obviously head-bobbed with each 'cuckoo'. Meanwhile, a female 'gawked nearby, but I never saw her above the canopy. A second male, fifty yards away called for about two minutes, the first male appeared to be totally unconcerned by this and started to preen with an 'Ok, whatever!' air.
I walked back toward the office as it was past 5 and I needed to lock the car-park gate at Cliffe. I stopped momentarily to look at the Thistles with their myriad clusters of Blackfly and the Red Ants milking them for their sweet dew.
Something made me look up and a female Cuckoo was on the overhead wires. She seemed to be staring at the bramble tangle below. I watched her for about ten minutes wondering if this was what I had been hoping for over the last few weeks! Suddenly she glided down and landed on top of the patch a mere five feet from the ground. She looked around and into the greenery below as if looking for something and not sure of what or wherever 'it' was.
After a minute or two she disappeared into the thicket, I held my breath, waiting to see if she would re-emerge through the same route and within a minute or two she did and clung to a nearby dead branch, then seemingly catching her breath she flew straight off low into the distance as if making a getaway.
I have put in a lot of hours on the reserve chasing female Cuckoos to try and find a hosted nest. It will be interesting to watch that bramble and listen to see if I'm right.
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