Jenni Tulip Paddy on a gate the thrify magpies nest

Calling a cuckoo by the river Derwent

30 days wildAfter a miserably cold and windy week the weather changed to what one would expect for this time of year; warm and still. The best thing about this time of year is that you can eat dinner and still have time to go for an evening walk before night falls.

We chose to walk by the river Derwent near the village of Bubwith, just a few miles from where we live. The river was calm and the water moved slowly and, at first, we feared the walk wouldn’t surprise us with anything of interest.

The flood plains that were underwater for many months only drained a few weeks ago and now the land is lush and thriving with wildflowers.

In places, the footpath was bare of vegetation and the ground was cracked; something so easily overlooked, but I stopped to admire the contrasting textures and colours.

Cracked mudIt was at that point the somewhat uneventful walk became full of wildlife. A pair of mute swans with last year’s young gracefully floated along the river, arching their necks now and then to scoop some water with their bills.

SwansA red shank announced its presence as it flew over our heads and out across the plains. A pair of curlew shortly followed, with their more whimsical call.

Paddy and DaveThen, we heard the star of the evening; a cuckoo! Only the third I have heard this year. ‘Watch this’ I said to partner, Dave, and step dad, Ian. I then mimicked the call of the cuckoo while looking out in the direction we heard the real bird call. In just moments we spotted him rise above the bushes way over the other side of the river and head towards where we stood. He landed in an oak on the opposite bank and called loudly in response to me. A few minutes later he took to the sky again, crossed the river some distance in front of us and carried on over the plains to the woodland beyond. I hope I didn’t scare him away!

Many years ago I played the same game with a cuckoo who, after much confusion of where the ‘other cuckoo’ was, landed on a telegraph wire just a few meters above my head and spent 15 minutes peering down at me as I called to him. I wonder what he must have thought!

Jenni Tulip Paddy on a gate the thrify magpies nest

The light was disappearing and I looked out across the plain to see two small dots in the distance. “Deer”, I said. We looked through the binoculars to see two deer grazing maybe a mile away. Thankfully Paddy couldn’t see them from his weight or we would have had to put his lead back on.

It was a real treat to see a cuckoo. We wondered whether anyone was in the bird hide on the other bank eagerly trying to spot the two cuckoos that were battling it out. We sniggered at the thought and I danced around abit pretending to be a cuckoo in flight.

Paddy dog

All in all, a perfect way to spend a June evening for 30DaysWild.

Have you called a cuckoo before?


By Jenni Tulip

I'm a bright-haired, hill walking, magpie whispering, skull collecting, tree hugging, money saving, bird watching, happy campervanning, ferret fanatic, woodland dweller sharing my stories and passion for the outdoors to inspire you to immerse yourself in nature.

  • This is such a charming tale, if I ever hear one, I will call one. But I haven't heard one for 35 years.

  • I love this post and if I ever hear a cuckoo I will definitely be trying this out! It's always lovely to engage and connect with nature like this. I love the contrast of the cracked mud against the grass too, I would have stopped to admire it as well! Lovely post. – Tasha