Going Cuckoo!

We’ve just had the most fantastic view of a female cuckoo prospecting for nests! Cuckoos are usually shy- they fly off as soon as they spot you- but this female was far more interested in trying to find a meadow pipit or willow warbler nest.

Female cuckoo

Female cuckoo

At first glance, cuckoos look a lot like sparrowhawks. This is evolution in action- the initial resemblance to a predator scares the small bird off, giving the cuckoo time to nip in and lay her egg in their nest. But she can’t hang around for long- they soon realise she’s not going to eat them and come and mob her very aggressively.

On the look out for  nests.

On the look out for nests.

They robins won’t be troubled by her though. Their babies are almost fledged. A few more days and they’ll be leaving the nest.

Baby robins- how quickly they grow up!

Baby robins- how quickly they grow up!

But this willow warbler may have to look out! It’s still in the process of nest building.

Willow warbler with nesting material

Willow warbler with nesting material

Some birds are still singing and looking for mates, either for a first or second brood. This blackbird may have helped raise one family already this year, while this whitethroat is newly-arrived from Africa and looking for a mate.

Male blackbird

Male blackbird

Whitethroat

Whitethroat

Another bird that the small birds will have to be wary of is this jay. These brightly –coloured crows are shy and hard to see, but this one has been tempted in by peanuts. They are known for eating acorns but are quite able and willing to take a nestful of eggs and chicks- like all crows, they’re smart, adaptable and omnivorous.

A jay, picking up fallen nuts

A jay, picking up fallen nuts

There was even a bit of a queue for the feeder this week! I think the woodpecker was hoping the squirrel would leave!

A queue for the feeder!

A queue for the feeder!

The goslings are getting bigger too. They are surprisingly fast- if you come across them while they are feeding on the shore, they all leg it down to the loch as quickly as possible. Then honk at you from the safety of the water!

Legging it for the loch!

Legging it for the loch!

Safe on the water

Safe on the water

They’re not the only speedy babies around.  Look closely at the lapwing fields and soon or later you’ll spot some balls of fluff on legs scurrying around. These are lapwing chicks. They’re nigh on impossible to count but there are at least eight just now.

Lapwing chick

Lapwing chick

People have been coming in an asking about all the “black flies” around just now. These are St Mark’s flies, so called because they appear around St Mark’s day on 25th April. However, this varies with how cold it is, and it hasn’t been warm this year! So there are lots of these around just now, a bit later than April! They are great food for swallows and even the cuckoo was tucking in. flies

We were lucky enough to get an away day to the wonderful St Cyrus NNR this week. For those who don’t know it, it just north of Montrose and fantastic for birds, plants, butterflies, moth and other wildlife. So we’ll finish off with some snaps from the day. Well worth a visit (if you can’t make it here!)

Garden tiger caterpillar

Garden tiger moth caterpillar

Egyptian goose

Egyptian goose

Whooper swan and Egyptian goose

Whooper swan and Egyptian goose

The three fledged raven chicks

The three fledged raven chicks

Roe deer

Roe deer

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