Keep an ear out for declining cuckoo
This spring a number of people have asked me about the cuckoo. Some said they have been glad to hear one, while others are concerned about the lack of cuckoos they have heard so far. The sad story is that cuckoos have declined in Britain by about 37 per cent over the past 15 years to a population of about 20,000 pairs. It is only recently I can remember a number of cuckoos would fly around Dungeness each May looking for meadow pipit nests and so far this year the species has nearly been absent from the Point. The reason stems from problems in Africa, where they winter, with landscapes becoming more arid, and the perils of the migration journey across the Mediterranean countries, where illegal shooting continues in spring and autumn. There is also the loss of suitable habitat in parts of southern and central England. Two species the meadow pipit and the dunnock have both seen declines. However, reed warblers seem to be holding their own. Male and female cuckoos look the same, while the youngsters which have been reared in the nest of the host is a brown speckled plumage. Listen out and enjoy the cuckoo if you hear one.