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Naturalists rarely serenaded by cuckoos

PUBLISHED: 17:30 04 June 2009 | UPDATED: 09:55 06 July 2010

THE countryside is silent this spring, the naturalist is this year rarely serenaded by the cuckoo.

In many areas of Lothingland and the Waveney Valley this harbringer of Spring has just disappeared from the area and in the UK as a whole.

THE countryside is silent this spring, the naturalist is this year rarely serenaded by the cuckoo.

In many areas of Lothingland and the Waveney Valley this harbringer of Spring has just disappeared from the area and in the UK as a whole.

There may have been a drought in the bird's wintering grounds or the adult birds just did not find many nests in which to lay their eggs.

The tree pipit is another summer visitor that has crashed this year too. The cause may be due to the trees and shrubs getting too tall and lush, lack of insects due to intensive spraying, or is it again a problem in their wintering grounds?

Although some nature writers are reporting on the lack of wrens I can confirm that the wren, meadow pipit and the hedge accentor (formally cunnock) the favourite nest of the cuckoo, are in very good numbers, so I don't think it is the lack of suitable nests.

I remember reading about the whitethroat population crash and the threat to the sand martin after the severe drought in the Sahel region of Africa. Both species recovered so we hope that further Springs may again resound to the call of the cuckoo and the Sandling Heath to the song of the tree pipit.

We are losing large numbers of birds hand over fist, look at how the starling, tree and house sparrows have declined in the last 50 years. Even as far back as 1987 I was observing large flocks of house sparrows around my childhood home of Kessingland. Now they have declined to almost nothing.

Of course, as usual, I am asking observers to send in records of cuckoos this year. These should go to the British Trust for Ornithology at www.bto.org , following the links to the bird track page, and/or to me at naturenoteslowestoft@googlemail.com

Without records we would never have been able to spot the decline of these species so it is very important to remain vigilant and submit your sightings.

Colin Jacobs


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