Thursday, 13 March 2014

Great Spotted Cuckoo - Giltar Point, Pembrokeshire 11th March 2014

Spring is truly here. A classic early spring vagrant has been showing well at Giltar Point, Pembrokeshire having been found on 11th March. This will be the 57th British record assuming that it is accepted. There are two peaks in its occurrence with records extending from February to May and July to October, the peak months are March and April. The species breeds from the Iberian Peninsula east to Iraq and Iran and winters in north-west and possibly sub-Saharan Africa. Populations to the south of the Sahara are semi-resident, migratory or may make seasonal and somewhat nomadic movements depending on rains. In Europe the species is well known as a brood parasite of Magpie and Azure-winged Magpie but in Africa it parasitises species such as Pied Crow and Superb Starling. Certainly when it occurs in the UK it agitates the local Magpie populations even though they are unlikely to have encountered the species previously.

Great Spotted Cuckoo, Giltar Point (Mark Hipkin)

Also found on 11th March was another classic spring overshoot, a Hoopoe at Polgigga, Cornwall. This bird was not seen again but for such a startling bird can be remarkably elusive.