Some cuckoos have been given electronic tracker tags and their journeys have been followed back and forward on their migration routes, so now we know even better than before exactly where some cuckoos go.
Most of our cuckoos go to Africa for our winter, spending around 9 months there and interestingly never actually calling “cuckoo” whilst there.
Lazy or clever, depending upon what you think, the cuckoo does not build a nest but lays its eggs in the nests of other birds, mostly the nests of meadow pipits in this area. Remarkably the eggs of cuckoos resemble those of the bird it lays its eggs in [the host].
When the young cuckoos hatch, the crafty wee birds chuck the other chicks out of their nest so it becomes the only one to be fed – it’s just as well humans do not do that.
The parent birds continue feeding the young even when it becomes much larger than the parents. Favourite foods are insects, big juicy caterpillars especially. At the end of summer the young somehow know to fly away to Africa – an amazing bird.
Also seen recently in Durness and also from Africa are the swallows, probably from even further away, they are keen on insects too, which of course Scotland has plenty of.
Another creature I have seen for the first time this year, one the Germans call ‘a flying mouse’, is a wee mammal which eats thousands of midges, flies at night and hangs upside down [to us], it probably thinks we are upside down.
Do you know what it is ? and if you have seen it around Durness I would like to know.
More of them later.