Friday 8 August 2014

Autumn migration and the art of serendipitous lateness

Yesterday morning we were supposed to leave the house early, as we had been tasked with helping out at the Dounby Show, organised by the West Mainland Agricultural Society.

Our Lass and I were part of the pinny posse for the East versus West Cook Off on the Orkney Zerowaste 'Love Food, Hate Waste' stand. There's photos on the OZ Facebook page, if you're that interested in seeing me in a pinny, but just don't expect me to make your life easy and link to it!

Anyway, as is the way of these things, we didn't quite hit our marks and were a bit tardy in our morning routine. We were still odding about with stuff, well after our intended departure time, when Our Lass pointed out a bird flying past the lounge window. It took me a few seconds to cross the room and grab my bins, so all I managed to see was the back end of a bird, brown above, white below, with much barring.

Probably a Sparrowhawk, I thought. At which point, it turned sharp left and flew off across a field, presenting a side view of pointed wings and an odd wing beat that just screamed Cuckoo.

Flying low to the ground, it kept disappearing behind a ridge, then re-appearing and disappearing again. Eventually, it landed on a fence post at the far side of the field. Our Lass also disappeared, clambering on to the wooden seats at the front of the house for a better view. I scrambled for my camera, before joining her on the adjacent chair.

There was just time to grab a few long range photos before the bird took to the air once more and was gone. Later in the day, after sharing this image with folk eminently more qualified than me to comment on bird ID, the consensus was juvenile Cuckoo.

I don't know about you, but I find this part of the Cuckoo's life cycle just as amazing as all the brood parasite stuff. If your mum and dad don't bother to build a nest or take the time and trouble to raise a family themselves, by the time you're ready to migrate south to West Africa for the Winter, there's no-one to accompany you or show you the way. That's a journey of 5000 miles into the unknown, on your own. Incredible.

And jolly decent of it to fly past our window.


Spadger said...

nice :o)
At least being on an island you'll not be graced with 'Bob'

Spadger said...

I don't know if this is working?

Imperfect and Tense said...

Hi JD, Yes it is and no we won't :o)