Have you heard a cuckoo yet? If so Exmoor National Park Authority would love to hear from you. Through Exmoor Wild Watch 2017 the National Park is monitoring cuckoo sightings this spring and summer.
Last year on Exmoor, the first cuckoo was heard on 12 April, so it’s time to start listening for their distinctive call – or perhaps be lucky enough to spot one of these charismatic birds whose appearance can be mistaken for a sparrow hawk when in flight. Traditionally, good places to hear cuckoos on Exmoor include Croydon Hill, Alcombe Common, Ley Hill and Webber’s Post.
Cuckoos are migratory birds which visit the UK during the breeding season between March and July after spending the winter in South Africa. Survey data suggest that across the UK cuckoo numbers dropped nearly 50% between 1995 and 2012, and they are a species that remain on the “red list” meaning they are of conservation concern.
On Exmoor, cuckoo populations are doing quite the opposite to what we see nationally. Despite their decline across the UK, populations on Exmoor are thriving. The latest Breeding Bird Survey (2014) highlighted a promising an 82% increase in cuckoo abundance across the National Park, since the previous survey in 2008.
Ali Hawkins, conservation officer (wildlife) at Exmoor National Park says:“Exmoor Wild Watch is an opportunity for everyone to join us in finding out more about some of the species that are characteristic of Exmoor. This year we would love to hear from you if you see any of the following species: cuckoo, dormouse, golden ringed dragonfly, kestrel, Atlantic grey seal, red kite, grey wagtail, red admiral, adder and tree bumblebee.
“You can record your sightings by visiting www.exmoor-nationalpark.gov.uk/Whats-Special/exmoor-wildwatch where you can also get involved by joining a Wild Watch training event.”
Spotter guides and a family wildlife leaflet can be picked up at National Park Centres at Dulverton, Lynmouth and Dunster. The cuckoo features on the front of the Moorland Birds of Exmoor National Park pocket guide which is available free of charge from National Park Centres at Dulverton, Dunster and Lynmouth.
Photo by Chris Triggs