Birds & Birding, Books

First Cuckoo in 1913

I was thinking about the seasons and how we look out for our first Yellow-billed Kite every year around Spring. We also love hearing the first Piet-My-Vrou and other cuckoo calls.

Richard Lydekker (1849 – 1915) was an English naturalist, geologist and writer of numerous books on natural history. In fact, about thirty books in thirty years, some of them multi-volume tomes – up to six volumes!

Lydekker attracted amused public attention with a pair of letters to The Times in 1913. He wrote on 6 February that he had heard a cuckoo, contrary to Yarrell’s History of British Birds which doubted the bird arrived before April. Six days later on 12 February, he wrote again, confessing that “the note was uttered by a bricklayer’s labourer”.

We have all been caught out by a tape recording, a cellphone audio clip – and a mimic like our Natal Robin, so we feel for poor Lydekker over a century later!

After the mirth subsided, letters about the first cuckoo became a tradition every Spring in The Times.

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Spring and Rivalry

The big old mirror removed from my bathroom and placed against an outside wall didn’t seem to be causing any hassle.

But in the meantime Spring has sprung and brightly-coloured little hormone packages are whizzing about.

Collared sunbird

– collared sunbird –

This fella was having at his reflection and must have concussed himself or run out of steam.

Luckily he was fine after a bit of rest and recuperation and whizzed off while I turned the mirror around so he could no longer spot a handsome rival mimicking his every move.