I really wasn’t expecting to be writing any more on the subject of our local Cuckoo but once again mother nature has managed to surprise me. In years past sightings, or more accurately heard calls, have been limited to a single day with my presumption being that birds were either passing through or were only using my patch at the very edge of their territories. Not so this time it seems. Instead we’ve been hearing at least one male belting out his song each day since last Sunday’s first discovery, and I for one am pretty chuffed. With continuing population decline I’d begun to fear for our local visitors but on the strength of these sightings perhaps I was being a little pessimistic. The words “at least one” were chosen carefully as yesterday evening we’re pretty certain there were two males present. The first was calling from a grove of trees towards the southern end of Cefn Drum yet whilst exploring Bryn-bach-Common a second bird blasted out a brief snippet from somewhere near Bryn-Bach farm. Now the possibility that the first could have flown across can’t be completely ruled out but given that it still seemed to be calling from the original location a short while later, I think we can be pretty certain that there were two distinct birds present.
It of course goes without saying that we couldn’t actually see either, despite much searching, a situation which was doubly frustrating given that Emma had stumbled across an approachable female early on Saturday morning. Whilst I was down at Llanelli WWT, failing to find a Bonaparte’s Gull I might add, Emma was busy getting the views I’ve been craving for several years now and in the process confirming that we could be in for a successful Cuckoo breeding season. I wonder which of the Meadow Pipits will succumb? Needless to say she, the Cuckoo not Emma, was long gone by the time I returned later in the day though with yet more illegal dirt bikers present, who can blame her. So three birds then, a record total according to my notes, and I was determined to see at least one of them before it was too late. If only they’d call a little more regularly to allow us to home in on one! As it was we were left wondering aimlessly as dusk approached until, just as we were heading back home, another brief call cut through the still air sounding very close indeed. Scanning the lower banks of Cefn Drum revealed only a few possible perches until there, sat atop the largest tree, was a stonking male Cuckoo. Finally. I can only blame a sense of euphoria at the sudden burst of energy which sent me scampering up the hillside for a record shot though, as it turned out, I probably shouldn’t have bothered. With this side of the valley in heavy shade it was far too dark and far too distant to produce anything usable but for me the sighting itself was reward enough. Now if only I could work out where an egg might have been laid…………..
Of course it wouldn’t have been a proper patch outing without recording some of the regulars which on this occasion included great views of a male Sparrowhawk lazily patrolling the valley sides. Its flight was considerably more ‘floaty’ than I’ve come to expect and this is the first time I’ve seen one of our local pair actually being pursued by various smaller birds. Also about were the Stonechats with several males now clearly defending territories. The one above was seen in an area which last year saw two families raised so fingers crossed for a repeat success. Down in the valley Yellowhammers were again present though flighty and I also recorded my very first White Wagtail of the year. Less successful have been the Grasshopper Warblers which I fear may have already finished reeling whilst I was otherwise engaged. I’ll keep trying though because, as the Cuckoos have shown, there’s often no alternative to putting in the hours if you want to squeeze the most out of your local patch.
Cefn Drum – 2015: 69 / 2016: 58
Upper Loughor – 2015: 0 / 2016: 59