Tony McLean's East Yorkshire Wildlife Diary

Wildlife photography in East Yorkshire

Cuckoo – one flew over and perched.


A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard In spring-time from the Cuckoo-bird – William Wordsworth

I could hear a Cuckoo calling as I walked wearily towards the reserve in the pre-dawn light. The dew from the long grass had soaked through my boots and my socks were already wet. I settled down in a convenient spot and waited for the sun to rise. There was just a light breeze and the morning mist danced around the surface of the lake. As the sun rose above the tops of the trees the landscape was bathed in a golden light. I poured myself some hot, black tea from my flask and waited. Suddenly, the Cuckoo I had heard earlier perched on a nearby branch and began calling. The light was perfect and my camera clicked. It was fascinating to watch it make its characteristic eponymous call. I had always assumed that a Cuckoo’s beak must have needed to be open wide in order to emit such a penetrating call. But no, the ‘cuck’ was almost breathed through a partially open bill and the ‘oo’ occurred with its beak closed, resonating deep from within the chest cavity of the bird. If I’d been more familiar with the video controls of my camera, I would have recorded the whole event; but instead, I just watched in awe and disbelief.


When the Cuckoo moved to another, less convenient perch, I turned to face the mist covered lake. I thought I’d try to capture a silhouette that would do justice to the morning light and managed this shot of a distant Greylag goose greeting the dawn…

Greeting the dawn

The local vixen made a brief appearance complete with its breakfast for its two hungry cubs.

Fox with supper

The Canada goose family in the background managed to avoid the fox’s attention this time but I did notice that its six chicks had now been reduced to four. (Note: it’s now down to three!) The gander is particularly defensive at the moment; taking on everything that invades his territory. Here’s a photograph of the gander chasing off a Greylag that got too close. I can tell you that the greylag lost a beak-full of tail feathers during this encounter.


The doe Roe deer are still present but I haven’t seen the stag for a week or two. Their coats are now looking a bit less tatty and have taken on a rich, rusty appearance. Here’s a picture of one of the females grazing on the shore of the lake and being harassed by the local Mute Swan.

Roe deer and Mute Swan

The local Barn Owl was out hunting most mornings and evenings, even in the rain. Pity it never got really close, but still it was a marvellous sight.

Barn Owl-returning with prey

Finally, I was rewarded with a good close view of the vixen’s new cubs last night. They both seem fit and healthy and are now, clearly quite independent from their mother. I hope to get some further photo opportunities in the near future, if it ever stops raining.

Fox cub

As always, please ‘click’ on any picture to open up a larger version.


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2 thoughts on “Cuckoo – one flew over and perched.

  1. Your wildlife reserve sounds like pure heaven. I wish I lived nearer.

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