The cuckoos are back
We had a request through recently asking about possible sites, in Wharfedale, where one could maximise their chances of seeing or hearing a cuckoo. The last time I had a cuckoo encounter was several years ago but I forwarded on the information from our latest annual review. I can now report we have had a sighting on the 19th April near the Swastika stone on Ilkley Moor. As well as hearing the characteristic call, the bird in question was seen flying east across the valley.
Cuckoos are migrant birds typically overwintering in Africa and returning to their breeding grounds, in the UK, in the summer months. They are well known for laying their eggs in the nests of other birds including meadow pipits, dunnocks and reed warblers. In the last 20 years the UK has lost over half its population of cuckoos, leading to their red listed status, and prompting the BTO’s satellite tracking project which has made fascinating viewing. You can find out the current location of these birds here.
Our annual review from last year recorded 67 cuckoo sightings, a slight decline from 2014. Almost three quarters of these records came from three main areas: the moors stretching from above Burley-in-Wharfedale to Addingham; the Bolton Abbey estate; Upper Wharfedale and were usually a result of hearing the call of the male birds only. Interestingly these moorland areas are the preferred habitat for meadow pipits.
Much information has been learnt to help save these birds from satellite tracking and your records that keep coming in can only help things further. We hope they have a turnaround in fortunes.