It’s far too late, I suspect, for a letter to The Times, and I don’t even know if they still publish them. But I’ve just heard my first cuckoo of the summer. Actually, this is my first cuckoo of the past dozen summers. Clearly I just don’t go to the right places at the right time.
Nevertheless, let me put down my marker for ornithological immortality, and announce that the aforesaid bird was singing away in Tiddersley Wood, just outside Pershore, on 10 May.
I know from a spot of background reading that the little fellow had performed miracles to make it from its winter haunts in the Congo to check into a summer retreat in the middle of Worcestershire. Well done on that score. May I suggest to him, however, that he won’t be getting the usual warm welcome in the UK.
These are tough times, and the trouble with the cuckoo is that he’s a bit of a sponger. Mr and Mrs Cuckoo put their feet up down in Africa, and then, when it gets too hot for them, they come over here, expecting the full range of ornithological services from the British tax-payer.
Worse still, they can’t even be bothered to look after their own youngsters, so they find some other bird to do it for them. Our own, hard-working, native dunnocks have to get up early in the morning to feed them, while the cuckoo idles about in the tree canopy.
And then, just to add insult to injury, when the summer is over, the blessed things swan off (well, cuckoo off) back to Africa. Thanks very much. All those British insects wasted on economic migrants, who don’t even stop to serenade us through the winter months.
Next time I hear one, I’m inclined to report it to CUCK-UKIP. It’s about time that the RSPB, and those other cosy bird-watching organisations, stood up for our British birds, and stopped supporting these fly-by-night shirkers, who haven’t done a decent day’s warbling in their life.
I’m afraid that the party’s over, Mr Cuckoo. Next time you decide to catch the jet-stream to the UK, we’re expecting you to build your own nest (no more social nesting for you), to look after your own eggs, and catch your own flies.
* Dr Chris Upton is checking the passports of nightingales at Newman University Birmingham