First Cuckoo

The 14th April is St. Tiburtius Day and is traditionally when you will hear the first cuckoo, as celebrated in Rudyard Kipling’s Cuckoo Song:

Cuckoo, bring your song here!
Warrant, Act and Summons, please,
For Spring to pass along here!
Cuckoo

The cuckoo migrates north from Africa and the date of its arrival, although traditionally the 14th April, varies in different parts of the country.

The first sighting is often in the far South West, in the Isle of Scilly and then gradually moves northwards. In recent years the cuckoo has tended to arrive on average five days earlier than usual, likely due to climate change.

On hearing the first cuckoo in spring it is traditional to pen a letter to The Times, but you can also send your reports to us – we’d love to hear from you. Just let us know when and where you heard it.

Every year we get lots of people telling us they’ve heard cuckoos well before April. Even if the weather is mild cuckoos are very unlikely to  have returned from Africa that early. So it’s probably a case of mistaken identity. If you think you’ve heard a cuckoo very early on check it’s not a collared dove.

We also receive a few pictures of’ ‘cuckoos’ each year. These are usually photos of fieldfares but people have occasionally mistaken sparrowhawks for cuckoos too. 

First Cuckoo Maiden Newton 2019

Linda Carruthers wrote from Maiden Newton, Dorset to say “I have heard it loads this year, the last time I heard it
was last week, not heard it since. I have heard it every year for the last few years apart from 2017, which was a bit concerning.”

First Cuckoo North Baddesley 2019

Gary Hayes heard a cuckoo this morning at 4:45 on North Baddesley Common, Hampshire.

He said, “My wife and I are absolutely positive that we heard a cuckoo. Can you assures us that we aren’t going nuts?”

First Cuckoo Woodley 2019

Nikki Mckie heard a cuckoo today on Dinton Pastures, near Woodly, a suburb of Reading.

First Cuckoo Sixpenny Handley 2019

Sally Sampson heard a cuckoo today in Garston Woods near Sixpenny Handley, Dorset.

First Cuckoo Henley In Arden 2019

Derek Healing heard his first cuckoo of the year in Henley in Arden, Warwickshire at 9:00 this morning.

First Cuckoo Linford Bottom 2019

John Gurney heard a cuckoo on the 11th April at Linford Bottom in the New Forest, Hampshire

He said he’d not heard one in this location in any previous years.

First Cuckoo Crowhurst 2019

John Madden heard a cuckoo yesterday afternoon and early evening and then again this morning in Crowhurst, Surrey.

First Cuckoo Woodchurch 2019

First Cuckoo Woodchurch 2019 Debbi Lilley heard a cuckoo twice this morning while walking her dogs at 6 am in Woodchurch, Kent. 

First Cuckoo Cardiff Bay 2019

Jan from Cardiff Bay emailed us to say, “I’m a farmer’s daughter and as a child my grandfather and father would always be excited to tell us when they’d heard the first cuckoo of spring.

“When I heard the cuckoo this morning it was such a lovely memory of my childhood on the farm as I now live in the city.”

First Cuckoo Holmwood 2019

Tania Mctigue heard a cuckoo at 7.30 this morning in woods owned by the Woodland Trust behind her home in Holmwood near Dorking, Surrey.

First Cuckoo Yorkley 2019

Tiny Wood heard a cuckoo this morning in Yorkley on the edge of the Forest of Dean.

She said it was wonderful as she hasn’t heard one for a few years.

First Cuckoo Modbury 2019

Diane Ranwell wrote to tell us she heard a cuckoo twice this morning at 8:00 am in Modubry, Devon. For cuckoos to be back in the UK they would have had to have left Africa in December. We do not know of any reason why they would have left Africa so early but if anyone is able to help then please let us know.

First Cuckoo Wrangaton 2019

We have had reports from 3 people who said that they have heard cuckoos yesterday and today in Wrangaton and Chawleigh, Devon, and Penmaenmawr, North Wales. It is far too early and far too cold for cuckoos to have made their way back from Africa so what they probably heard were collared doves which often get mistaken for cuckoos at this time of year.

First Cuckoo Penmaenmawr 2019

Georgina Llewellyn emailed us to say she heard a cuckoo yesterday near the junction of Fernbrook Road and Conwy Old Road.

She said she could not believe her ears and asked my partner what did he think it was. He confirmed – yes, it was
definitely a cuckoo.

She added it was 11.05, a lovely sunny day but temperature
was only 6-7 degrees.

Although the day was reasonably warm cuckoos have not yet returned to the UK from Africa to begin breeding so it was unlikely it was a cuckoo Georgina heard. 

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