Cuckoos on a beautiful Spring Morning.

07th May 2018
Yesterday I decided to take advantage of this glorious weather and go out walking this morning up on the local hills. The alarm went off at 05.00 and I awoke to a stunningly beautiful morning. It was already light and there was birdsong all around my garden. I had arranged my kit last night to save time, I had a quick cup of tea and a slice of toast and I was out and gone. At 05.45 I was walking on a local hillside, Willow Warblers were displaying, Wood Warblers were singing their ‘spinning coin’ song and Tree Pipits were parachuting out of the sky singing as they dropped down into the tops of the trees. It was an absolute pleasure to be out and I felt so privileged to be walking on these hills that are right on my doorstep. However, my quarry was a female Cuckoo that I had been watching for a few days, it wouldn’t be easy, it never is, but if you do your homework you are in for a chance.
My mantra;
Do your homework. Get up early. Wear muted colours. Be quiet. Be patient. If you can’t adhere to these criteria then forget photographing birds like Cuckoos. They are so sharp, and once they see you then you won’t get near them.
I knew the area she was frequenting and I made my way there straight away and got underneath some Hawthorn trees. After about half an hour I could hear a male Cuckoo distantly, but no sign of the female. I would happily photograph the male but it would be nice to get the female because almost all Cuckoo photos you see are male. They must outnumber the females, it looks that way anyway.
The male came nearer and I managed to shoot him on the top of a Hawthorn bush with a Hairy Caterpillar in his beak, which was a good start!

Then some time later I could hear the female’s soft bubbling song and I could see her flying around the Hawthorns looking to land on a suitable perch, these birds always have their preferred vantage points and they inevitably use them at some time. I got myself ready, pointing my lens at one of the favoured bushes and predictably she came in and perched out in the bright sunshine, facing in my direction about twenty yards away.

I shot her straight away, it’s great when planning comes to fruition! However, she was being mobbed by Meadow Pipits.

I knew she wouldn't stay long but then the male came steaming in anyway and landed on the same bush and they were both off and flying away, interacting as they disappeared into the distance. Sometimes you only get one chance and you have to be prepared, but she was ‘In the Can’ to use motion picture parlance and I happily continued on my walk enjoying a stunning morning. It’s worth getting up anyway these mornings but if you get some success then it’s even better!