The last Cuckoo?

This juvenile Cuckoo was present yesterday and again today at Foxholes Fisheries, near Crick, where it spent some time feeding from a fence post. It is a grey morph individual – many are also rufous, resembling the so called ‘hepatic’ form of adult females – and shows the white nape-spot characteristic of juveniles.

Juvenile Cuckoo, Crick, 10th August 2012 (Joan Chaplin)

According to the BTO, Cuckoos have declined by 63% in England over the past 25 years and the now famous BTO satellite-tracking project has revealed that adult Cuckoos can leave the UK as early as the first week in June and be back in Africa by July. Juveniles are obviously later leaving but you won’t see many around from now on. There is a wide variation in the dates for recording the last ones in Northamptonshire, year on year. The latest record during the history of the Northamptonshire Bird Report (since 1969) was of a very late individual at Kettering on 17th October 1972 in contrast to the last one in 2010, at Earls Barton GP, on 4th July! There appear to be few local photos of Cuckoos and thanks are due to Joan Chaplin for supplying the images above.

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