Rare sighting of visitor to the nature reserve
OFFICIALLY spring is nearly with us, although we can all agree there have been many signs of spring already over the last two months. I saw my first spring bird migrant the other day, but it was not the traditional wheatear, chiffchaff or swallow but a real rarity – a great spotted cuckoo. This bird summers in Spain and the Eastern Mediterranean and is usually only seen in Britain about once a year. The bird was seen on the RSPB reserve of the Dungeness National Nature Reserve. The great spotted cuckoo is an impressive bird, bigger than our familiar cuckoo and only slightly smaller than a magpie. The bird has a light ash grey crest and head, a dark back and wings with white spots peppering it, with an enormous long tail, pale lemon yellow underneath and a slightly downcurved short bill. Cuckoos lay their eggs in other birds’ nests, our normal cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of reed warblers, dunnocks or meadow pipits, depending on the habitat. Great spotted cuckoos lay their eggs in crows’ nests, especially magpies. They feed on large insects and caterpillars and spend plenty of time on the ground.
If you have any questions about Nature Notes call Owen Leyshon on 01797 367934