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 Porlock 2020

Paul heard a cuckoo today in Hawkcombe Woods, Porlock, Somerset. 

First Cuckoo Trinity 2020

Pam Warr heard a cuckoo today in Trinity, Jersey. 

She said she hadn’t heard one for 14 years. 

First Cuckoo Kilnwick 2020

Richard heard a cuckoo today in Kilnwick, East Yorkshire. 

First Cuckoo Nomansland 2020

M Lankford heard a cuckoo today in Nomansland, Wiltshire. 

First Cuckoo Reigate 2020

Gill heard a cuckoo today at Reigate Heath, Surrey.

First Cuckoo Dunbar 2020

Kate Crawford heard a cuckoo today just outside Dunbar, East Lothian.

She said, “Was walking in the glen behind our house near Spott, with my son and we heard it. Sadly could not see it. But my 3yr son knew what it was as we have a cuckoo clock. 🙂 Will definitely be keeping eyes and ears open.”

First Cuckoo Backwell 2020

Judy Saunders heard a cuckoo yesterday in Backwell, North Somerset.

She said, ” I haven’t heard a cuckoo here for many years so I was thrilled to hear it yesterday.”

First Cuckoo South Stoke 2020

Judith Bubb heard a cuckoo in South Stoke, South Oxfordshire. 

She said, “Loud, clear and lasted a good ten minutes. Wonderful. The best I’ve heard for some years.”

First Cuckoo Cannock Chase 2020

Lorna Parton heard a cuckoo on the 23rd April in Cannock Chase, Staffordshire.

First Cuckoo Trewint 2020

Harry Hayward heard a cuckoo in Trewint, Cornwall.

He said, “Heard this afternoon on the edge of Bodmin Moor. The first cuckoo I have heard in nearly 5 years.”

First Cuckoo Darwen Moor 2020

Bill Tomlinson heard a cuckoo in a small copse on the lower western slope of Darwen Moor, Lancashire.

He said, ” Listened and watched a cuckoo in a small wooded valley on the way down from Darwen Moor to my home in the village of Tockholes.

“He was perched high on a branch at the top of a tree.”

First Cuckoo Ashton 2020

Andy Barnes heard a cuckoo today in Ashton, Saffron Walden, Essex.

He said, “Fantastic – gave me a big smile.”

First Cuckoo Markyate 2020

Christopher Peter Nicholls heard a cuckoo today near Markyate, Hertfordshire. 

He added, ” Haven’t heard one in years, It was a lovely surprise.”

First Cuckoo Telscombe 2020

Martin Hayward heard a cuckoo today at Telscombe Tye, East Sussex.

First Cuckoo Didcot 2020

Pauline Upstone heard a cuckoo on the 19th April while walking by a backwater of the Thames between Long Wittenham and Appleford villages near Didcot.

She said, ” I wasn’t particularly listening out, but walking on my own near my home due to social distancing.

“The path by the river isn’t used much because the nettles come up, but they weren’t yet very high and it was such a lovely day to walk by this backwater.

It was about 10.30 am and I heard it only twice and didn’t see the bird, but I feel sure it was a cuckoo, as there are collared doves often in my garden, and the cuckoo sounds distinctive.”

First Cuckoo St Arvans 2020

Michael Gollop heard a cuckoo today at Veddw Wood, St Arvans, Wye Valley.

First Cuckoo Alfrick 2020

Alan Peterson heard a cuckoo today at Alfrick, Worcestershire. 

First Cuckoo Owlsmoor 2020

Jemma Campbell-Scott heard  and saw a cuckoo at Owlsmoor, Sandhurst.

She said, “Very clear cuckoo song and seen flying over our house as we sat in the garden around 8:00 am.”

First Cuckoo Gainsborough 2020

Neil Garnham heard a cuckoo at 7:25 am in woodland between Lea Park, Gainsborough and the A156.

First Cuckoo Cleeve Common 2020

Richard Warner heard a cuckoo yesterday afternoon near Cleeve Common, in the trees just south-west of the pylons.

First Cuckoo Fen Drayton 2020

Amanda Chadwick heard a cuckoo at 6:25 am this morning through her bedroom window in Fen Drayton, Cambridgeshire. 

First Cuckoo Newhall 2020

Martyn Foster heard a cuckoo today at Newhall, Derbyshire. 

First Cuckoo Cwmcarn 2020

David heard a pair of cuckoos calling to each other at Cwmcarn Forest Drive, Cwmcarn, Newport, Gwent.

First Cuckoo Charlwood 2020

Katy Pratt heard a cuckoo at Charlwood, Surrey. 

She said, “I heard a cuckoo at 4.00 pm today. I live in a rural area with a mixture of open farmland and woodland surrounding my house.”

First Cuckoo Cowes 2020

Brenda Martin-Dye heard a cuckoo in woods between Cowes and Gurnard on the Isle of Wight. 

She said she did not hear it last year, so is thrilled to report it today. 

First Cuckoo Pig Bush 2020

Linda Keating heard and saw two cuckoos today between Pig Bush and Shatterford in New Forest. 

First Cuckoo Isle Of Seil 2020

Andy Morris heard a cuckoo today on the Isle of Seil, Argyll and Bute, Scotland.

First Cuckoo Broadwoodwidge 2020

Rovhard heard a cuckoo today in Broadwoodwidger, Devon.

He said, “Simply a beautiful moment in time, the cuckoo stayed around for the afternoon and not a single contrail in the pure blue sky.”

First Cuckoo Malltraeth 2020

Dr Angela Davis heard a cuckoo in Llyn Parc Mair woods, Malltraeth, Anglesey this morning at 7:40.

First Cuckoo Silverhill 2020

Graham Chisholm heard a cuckoo in Silverhill, East Sussex.

He said, “This is the first time this year I’ve heard the cuckoo, when out on my morning walk. Love to hear that call.”

First Cuckoo Milford 2020

Sarah McDade heard a cuckoo on heathland near Milford, Surrey. 

First Cuckoo Greengairs 2020

Willie Bennie heard a cuckoo on moorland just south of the village of Greengairs and north of the town of Airdrie in North Lanarkshire, Scotland.

He said, ” I was walking in an area known as Drumshangie Moss when I heard what I believe to be a male cuckoo. Unfortunately it was in the distance so I never actually got to see it.”

First Cuckoo Forest Row 2020

Odell heard a cuckoo on the 6th April towards Ashdown golf course, RH18.

First Cuckoo Blackheath 2020

Philip Stitson heard a cuckoo in Blackheath, London. 

He said, “Very surprised to hear a cuckoo calling from woods at the edge of Blackheath – working from home does have some perks after all!”

First Cuckoo West Stow 2020

Camilla was delighted to hear the first cuckoo of the season at 6:00 pm yesterday at West Stow, King’s Forest, Suffolk.

First Cuckoo Gasper 2020

Tamsin Holmes heard a cuckoo yesterday morning on the edge of woods in Gasper, near Stourton.

First Cuckoo Cangate 2020

Nigel Pickering heard a cuckoo today at Cangate, near Neatishead, Norfolk.

He said, “Heard a cuckoo at 8.20 this morning. We have plenty of wood pigeons and collared doves in our garden so know what they sound like. This was definitely a cuckoo calling. The first one we have heard here in 2 years”

First Cuckoo Bookham Common 2020

Joy Taylor heard a cuckoo today at Bookham Common, Surrey. 

She said, “So excited to hear one this early!”

First Cuckoo Wickford 2020

Sarah Link heard a cuckoo yesterday in Essex. 

She said, “My garden is next to the trees alongside the Wickford to Southminster train line. I am used to various birds (wood pigeon, robins, blackbirds, magpies, crows).

“Yesterday Wed 2nd April 2020 at 10.00am I heard a cuckoo.

“Haven’t heard one in years and was quite excited at the sound, so used to the doves and pigeons but this was definately a cuckoo.”

First Cuckoo Fort William 2020

John Stuart Craig heard a cuckoo today at Roy Bridge nr Fort William.

First Cuckoo Dalmally 2020

Scott Gibson heard a cuckoo on the 30th March in Dalmally, Argyll.

First Cuckoo Blakedown 2020

Chris Perry heard a cuckoo calling at approximately 2:00 pm yesterday in Blakedown, Worcestershire.

First Cuckoo Pershore 2020

Linda Hamlin heard a cuckoo today while working in her garden in Pershore, Worcestershire. 

She said, “I was so surprised I stopped work to see if I could pinpoint where the cuckoo was. It appeared to be very close. We have a wetland area about half a mile from us and I assume the cuckoos return to use the nests of the reed buntings which nest there.”

First Cuckoo Skegby 2020

Shirley Gregory heard a cuckoo at about 2:00 pm today in Skegby, Sutton in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire.

First Cuckoo Coventry 2020

Michael Fitzgerald heard a cuckoo in Coventry today. 

First Cuckoo Blackbird Leys 2020

Russell Price heard a cuckoo today at Blackbird Leys, Oxfordshire. 

He said, “I was at the allotment very early to adjust window closing devices on a greenhouse and was taking advantage of the deep frost. I heard the song coming from woods the other side of the Mini car plant”

First Cuckoo Beckenham 2020

Claire Bowden-Dan heard a cuckoo today in Beckenham Place Park.

First Cuckoo Woolley Moor 2020

Anne Matanle emailed us to say she saw a cuckoo yesterday in Woolley Moor, Derbyshire. 

She said, “I didn’t actually hear a cuckoo, but a male came and perched on my neighbour’s cherry tree.

“I was siting in my window with my binoculars as many birds are accustomed to landing on my neighbour’s trees as she has been feeding the birds for years.

“I was waiting to see how many greenfinches or chaffinches have recovered and it just landed within my sights!

“It didn’t stay long and I don’t yet know if my neighbour also saw it.”

First Cuckoo Haslemere 202

John Casey heard a cuckoo on the 14th March 600 m from Black Down car park above Haslemere.

He said, “Very early to hear a cuckoo but 2 of us on a walk heard it.”

First Cuckoo Repps With Bastwick 2020

Sally Mitchell heard a cuckoo in Repps With Bastwick, Norfolk. 

She added, “Heard whilst working on the farm – something to lighten the gloom!”

First Cuckoo Stalham 2020

Maurice Barnes heard a cuckoo today in Stalham, Norfolk. 

First Cuckoo Sutton 2020

Pat Bains emailed to tell us she heard a cuckoo today in Sutton, Suffolk.

She said she heard it from the kitchen and ran outside to see it flying over the garden. Her husband saw it too.

They’ve been birding 50 years and this is the earliest for them – she thinks the earliest recorded is the 14th March in Sutton.

First Cuckoo Winterslow 2020

Stephen Cooper heard a cuckoo in Winterslow, Wiltshire. 

He said, “Heard a cuckoo early in the morning for two days on the trot. Sadly, I’ve not heard it since, despite ranging far and wide!”

First Cuckoo Humberston Fitties 2020

Stephen Burres heard a cuckoo on the 11th March. He was very surprised to heart this early, but after listening it to a while, it was definitely a cuckoo.

First Cuckoo Eye 2020

Pamela Houghton wrote to tell us that her hubby woke her at 6.40 am this morning and it was definitely a cuckoo that they heard. It was very distinct.

She added, “We live in the country so are used to what collared doves and other birds sound like.”

First Cuckoo Beaumont Chase 2020

Edwin Timewell wrote to tell us he and his friend heard and saw a cuckoo on the 5th March near Beaumont Chase, Leicestershire.

He said, “I did not hear the cuckoo but my friend Lee Overton and I saw the cuckoo flying very low skimming over a hedgerow at speed and swerved low over the road between us an oncoming car.

“It maintained its height and skimmed over the hedgerow on the opposite side of the road. Both Lee and I are experienced bird watchers who have seen cuckoos before and had a close up view of the bird.

“We are in no doubt that it was a cuckoo and clearly saw the grey barring of its chest plumage .The weather was cold, windy, and rainy and there had recently been storms from the South West.

“Given its purposeful and low flight, we may postulate that it had been driven down by gales and rain from higher altitude and it was now flying low over the ground for lift and that it was headed North through central England.

“Being so early in the year, maybe this was headed to Scotland on migration?

“Amazing to see so early in the year and a welcome harbinger of spring!”

First Cuckoo Rossett 2020

Hilary Simons heard a cuckoo today in Rossett, near Wrexham.

She said, ” I realise very early but pretty sure I heard him this morning! About 07.20.

“This was not a dove. He called for about a minute. Last year I did not hear him at all.”

First Cuckoo Bournemouth 2020

Gemma heard a cuckoo today in Bournemouth, Dorset. 

She said, “Definitely a cuckoo; he or she comes every year at this time!

“I live behind heathland. I’ve been treated to its dawn chorus for the last two days .”

First Cuckoo Enfield 2020

James Haslam heard a cuckoo today in Enfield, North London. 

First Cuckoo Godshill 2020

Ann Blake emailed us to say she definitely heard a cuckoo today in Godshill in the New Forest. 

She asked if it was early. Yes it is very early and unlikely to have been a cuckoo. 

First Cuckoo Stalybridge 2020

Edd Kirby wrote to tell us that at 7:00 am he felt startled as he heard what appeared to be a cuckoo calling in Stalybridge, Greater Manchester. 

First Cuckoo Fulking 2020

Robin Howard heard a cuckoo on the 3rd of March in Fulking, West Sussex. 

He said, “Fishing in a brief window of calm, late morning, the unmistakable sound of a cuckoo calling. And I have a friend who works on a farm in rural Kent who recorded the same today (5th).”

First Cuckoo Cromer 2020

Sarah Faulkes heard a cuckoo in Cromer, Norfolk. 

She said, ” I was putting some rubbish in my client’s dustbin at lunchtime, when I heard the cuckoo. I thought it was early and at first thought I was hearing things, but I heard it again on Monday and again yesterday.”

First Cuckoo North Windermere 2020

Marc Sanders heard a cuckoo today in the field at the top of Victoria Road, North Windermere.

First Cuckoo Southend-On-Sea 2020

Angie Abdirahman heard a cuckoo today in Southend-on-Sea. 

She said, ” I know it’s really but I’m sure I just heard a cuckoo.”

First Cuckoo Wolverhampton 2020

Marion Burns heard a cuckoo today in Wolverhampton. 

She said, “I heard the cuckoo call at 7.40 am from my home. I opened the window to check I was not mistaken and heard it again.

“I have just read on your website that I could be mistaken by the similar call of the collared dove however I have just watched a video on identifying cuckoo sounds versus collared doves, and, mad as it sounds, I still think what I heard was a cuckoo!”

First Cuckoo Cowley 2020

Ian Oliver heard a cuckoo in Cowley, Oxfordshire on the 12th March. 

He commented, “This seems earlier than normal to hear a cuckoo in the park.”

First Cuckoo Gloucester Docks 2020

Lisbeth Bennison heard a cuckoo today at Gloucester Docks. 

She said, Thought I was hearing things at first, but being familiar with collar doves in our previous home I can confirm it was definitely a cuckoo. The reinforced my views ten minutes later.”

First Cuckoo Hadlow Down 2020

Judi Lampon heard a cuckoo on the 12th February at Hadlow Down, East Sussex.

She asked, “Is this possible? This is the third morning I have heard him.”

It probably isn’t as it’s too early for cuckoos to have arrived back from Africa. 

First Cuckoo Andover 2020

Jo Harris wrote to tell us she was visiting her sister in a village outside Andover and woke up to hear a cuckoo in the woods.

She said, “I know this is very unusual but definitely know the difference between a wood pigeon and cuckoo.”

It is too early for cuckoos to have returned from Africa so what Jo heard was probably a collared dove which often get mistaken for cuckoos at this time of year.

First Cuckoo Alresford 2020

Dan heard a cuckoo yesterday in Alresford, Hampshire.

He said, “I heard the distinctive call of a Cuckoo whilst working in Alresford Hampshire yesterday. It was a lovely warm day.”

First Cuckoo Stonehouse 2020

Morven heard a cuckoo today at Stonehouse, Lanarkshire. 

She said, “Is this not really early for the cuckoo, could I be mistaking it for something else?”

Almost certainly, yes. 

First Cuckoo Bucklebury 2020

Robert Williams heard a cuckoo in Bucklebury, West Berkshire.

He heard the cuckoo at 7:00 am and it was repeated several times. 

First Cuckoo Ewerby 2020

Vicki Hooton emailed to say she heard a cuckoo today in Ewerby, Lincolnshire.

She said, “I can’t believe I’m hearing a cuckoo in my garden at the beginning of February?!! I had to stand listening to make sure I was hearing correctly.’

It is far too early for cuckoos to have arrived back to the UK to breed so unfortunately Vicki must have been mistaken. 

First Cuckoo Vowchurch 2020

Ivor Scott emailed us to let us know he heard a cuckoo in Hampshire on the 30th January. 

He wrote. “On Thursday morning I was working with 2 staff from the Countryside Restoration Trust at their property, Turnastone Court Farm, Vowchurch, Herefordshire. I heard a bird calling and at first dismissed it as it was far too early for a cuckoo. 

“However, the other two confirmed it was a cuckoo. We heard it call on two occasions during the morning. Unmistakably a cuckoo. 

“Is this something we should report? It seems significant as very early in the year.”

It is very unlikely that what Ivor heard was a cuckoo as they have not yet returned from their wintering grounds of Africa. 

We get some reports of people hearing cuckoos at this time of year which are most probably the calls of collared doves. 

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