I had hoped to get back into the nature-blogging swing of things this month, but the British weather has been so dire that I haven't got out much.
On the last day of May, as I lay awake in bed at 5am, I was delighted to hear a very distant cuckoo cuckooing away for all he was worth. This is the first time I have ever heard a cuckoo in West Yorkshire. Later that day, I had a long phone-chat with my babaceous friend Stense in Scotland. She was delighted at my cuckoo news, having not heard a cuckoo herself for yonks. Half an hour after our call, a very excited Stense phoned me back: she had taken the dog for a walk and was standing directly underneath a cuckoo. There was another cuckooing away not far off. The calls came across so clearly on the phone that, for a bit of fun, I tried to record them. By the time I had rigged up my microphone, however, the cuckoos had moved off, so all I got was a recording of Stense asking me if I could hear anything!
Dad reminded me a couple of weeks ago that Mum used to say that the woodpigeon nesting in one of the trees in their garden sounded as if it was singing ‘Old Man River’. Ridiculous, obviously, until you actually hear it; then it is unmistakeable. It must run in the family: I am now convinced that one of the blackbirds in our garden keeps singing the word ‘Sarajevo’.
I finally managed to get a walk on the moor this Wednesday (13th), and was delighted to see a buzzard circling high above High Brown Knoll. Far too far away to get a photo, but exciting because it was my first ever buzzard above the moor. Persecution makes buzzards extremely rare in sheep- and grouse-country.
During the walk, I also spotted a little owl. It spotted me too, which means I couldn't get all that close. But I did at least manage to get a few photos this time.
Buzzards and little owls notwithstanding, the undoubted highlight of the week came on Monday (11th) as I was working in the dining room: a newly fledged house sparrow stood on the stone in the middle of our bird-bath, trying to pluck up the courage to take the plunge. It tested the water several times with one foot, then leant over for a closer assessment. It had the fright of its very short life when it saw another sparrow looking up out of the water at it. You have never seen a sparrow move quite so fast!
Come on, British summer, you're bloody late! It's the solstice next week!