Sunday, 7 July 2013

THE END OF THE CUCKOO CURSE?

Well most who know me either via this blog or in person will know about my "Cuckoo curse", I've never really struggled to find this bird but it's actually achieving the "shot". My best image to date came a couple of years ago on the scrape of Summer Leys NR during a thunderstorm!! A clap of thunder sending a male in full panic mode past the hide windows-gery skies, or a hepatic version (rufous) again Summer Leys, but to far away, or a while back an Oriental Cuckoo in Norfolk-record shots. But it seemed to me always with difficult weather/skies.
NOT A PROMISING START! 
So with clear skies and scorching sun forecasted for the next few days, now was the chance to slam dunk the curse once and for all....however...it never quite works that straight forward does it? Bird photography would be too easy otherwise.
As I left home at 5:30am it was sunny and cool with a slight breeze but as I headed for the River Nene the valley had a low mist, "not a problem" I thought it would (and did) soon burn off. Parked up and headed for the public footpath, right away I knew it would be a good day when a vole ran straight across my path, stopped, looked up, squeaked and legged it back to the hedgerow...very Dr.Doolittle lol. The mist actually looked great, suspended a foot above the crops, quite serene, wish I had a smaller lens! I got to the reedbed and the boardwalk, tried a few Reedwarbler shots and soaked up the sounds of Reed Buntings, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler and Long Tail Tit flock calling away. A Buzzard being mobbed by some crows and with something dangling from it's talons and gliding low over the farm grabbed my "world-weary" eyes and I walked off to see if an image was possible when "cuckoo-cuckoo" from very close to my position yet faint and right by the edge of the footpath sitting in a tree was a Cuckoo, great, well of sorts, into the rising sun and with some mist still hanging in the air I grabbed a few record images like the one above, a few minutes later it was off, nice first encounter. I turned my attention back to the reedbed with about an hour until the sun was in a more favourable spot in the sky, no point trying for an image with the light being in my face...but would my curse bite me on my arse? Was that record shot all I would get?
ABOUT TIME!!!
Would it heck, the above image well and truly sent my curse packing. I ignored the boardwalk, the reedbed here seems to be thriving from first the wet weather and now the dry weather...very tall and bushy meant most of the Reed Warblers were obscured by reed stems as was the Cettis image (kicking myself about that one!!).
As I walked down to the bottom of the site were the Cuckoo headed off too, Water Rails were squealing away, never seen thanks to the density of the reedbed, however with two VERY separate groups of adults calling from different parts of the reedbed, I would have to use my imagination to guess how many young are in there...."what is that calling" came a female voice, making me jump as I hadn't heard her approach, it was the farmers wife taking her dogs for a walk, "Water Rails, did you see the Cuckoo?" I asked "Yeah we had it calling from the the Ash tree at the back of the garden this morning"...lucky lady. She pointed which tree on the next section seemed to be the Cuckoo's favourite perch, she wasn't wrong either.
I sat on the bench overlooking the lake and with Cuckoo in sight sat and waited. Took a few Blue Tit images and Sedge Warblers and soaked up the sights of orchids, dragonflies and butterflies all the time with a backdrop soundtrack of a very faint Cuckoo calling away....life really doesn't get much better then this does it? Well at least until it flies right towards you, a huge slice of luck I've been waiting/deserving for such a long time....result, here's the fly past I've been dying for..."don't screw it up" I kept telling myself, "wait for it, patience lad", then "click,click,click" of the shutter, 13 frames on the memory card, hopefully one will be good...got one really good one and one "so-so" the rest, not really happy with (am I ever?).

 The above image is my second favourite.


It perched up on another tree very close, but again right into the sun, giving great views as it looked over the reedbed calling away. Not sure how much longer the male is going to be around before heading back for Africa, I can say THERE MIGHT be young on the way as a chat with the farmers wife confirmed a female is flying around, she knows her stuff so I would say without fear of contradiction she's right. Sadly I didn't see my second "target" bird all day, Hobby, which was odd seeming as there were so many fluttering insects for it to feed on, but that would be asking for to much wouldn't it? By 4pm I was well and truly knackered, the sun draining all life from me, grass snakes scurrying off into the hedgerow along the footpath was the highlight of the walk back to the car...they do have shift!!! VERY QUICK. But none of that mattered as I had finally got rid of my "Cuckoo Curse".......

14 comments:

  1. Brilliant Douglas. Congratulations.

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    1. Thanks Adrian, well worth the heat and early start for.

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  2. Cracking flight shots of the Cuckoo! Curse well broken I'd say!

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    1. Cheers ben, I do hope the curse is broken, fingers crossed

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  3. Well and truly un-cursed Douglas, a superb series of shots, well done!...[;o)

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    1. Thanks Trevor, fingers crossed I'll get a couple of more chances I fancy a portrait next:)

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  4. Well done mate, you certainly made the best of this most recent encounter and NAILED some cracking images.

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    1. Thanks Paul, truth is I would swap them for a Little Owl flight shot any day.

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  5. Brilliant shots!! I failed to see a cuckoo this year. Heard them many a time but sightings eluded me! Well done! Hope you had a lovely weekend!

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    1. They're an amazing bird and so clever at hiding, the Cuckoo topped a good weekend, I hope you too had a good weekend.

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  6. Super shots to end the 'curse' Douglas.

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    1. Thanks Frank, I enjoyed the moment, hope it happens again.

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  7. Brilliant images of the Cuckoo, Doug! Fast-flying birds like these can't be easy to shoot. So pleased you laid your curse to rest in such a spectacular fashion!

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    1. Cheers Richard, just one of many "cursed" birds lol, just a few more to sort out next.

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