Letter to the Times?

Despite the fine weather in March, summer migrant birds seem to have been late in arriving in the Severn Vale: plenty of singing Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps since mid-March, but these were likely to have been birds that had wintered, using the resources provided by bird tables in hard weather, and bursting into song as soon as the weather improved.  But unusually no Swallows, very few Sand Martins (and these were all seen by others!), not a Willow Warbler anywhere.

So it was something of a surprise to hear, on the morning of Saturday 7 April, near The Leigh, the unmistakeable sound of a calling Cuckoo.  John Wiltshire and I looked at one another and couldn’t believe our ears, given that even the most optimistic ornithologists reckon that 14 April is an average first date for singing Cuckoos in the Vale.  Even more astonishing, I had hardly got over the surprise, when Mark Grieve rang me on my mobile phone to say that he was just back from a visit to Ashleworth, where he had heard…. a callling Cuckoo.  Mr Editor, may I venture to suggest that Cuckoos are remarkably early this year?

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