For weeks now I've been hoping to find cuckoo but he was elusive. Today, I heard a cuckoo in the direction of Warriner's Wood so was off in pursuit. He was somewhere high in the green of larch trees. I always have binoculars but today I'd forgotten them.
'He was, as the cuckoo is in June,
Heard, not regarded'
King Richard II made himself too familiar, says Henry Bolingbroke, his cousin who deposed him.
To me, hearing a cuckoo is become so special I have to follow it, back and forth over Helsington Barrows with interludes to admire drifts of cowslip and early purple orchid.
And I pick up the call later as I come off Scout Scar. A walker asks me directions so I tell him and add that he may hear a cuckoo on his way. 'What does that sound like?' he enquires. I thought he was joking but he was not. How could a middle-aged walker not even know the call of a cuckoo.
Tall larch trees hide the cuckoo well and he startles me when he calls from a tree close beside me, then flies off fast. Stealth is the keynote for cuckoo, a brood parasite for whom deception is essential. When I hear male cuckoo I look for a display post, the top of a dead tree. But this bird was canny and they're sharp-sighted. I snuk between larch trees in full May foliage and I could hear he was close but I couldn't see him until he flew. I pass a mature oak where once I stood hearing the gurgling of a female cuckoo above me unseen in thick foliage.
Hoary Rock Rose opens in the bright sun and this is the season of the flora of the cliff-edge. The flowers are distinctive in their rocky habitat and in their pallor. Common Rock Rose and Vetch flower too.