Contrary to what seem to be happening in much of the country, it has been largely dry and sunny here for the past few days. Makes a change. With lots of experience of flooding and heavy rains here in Borrowdale, our thoughts are with those who have had too much recently.
We heard the cuckoo for the 1st time yesterday Do you know the Borrowdale cuckoo story? Read on to find out how we tried to achieve eternal spring in Borrowdale…
Each year in the Borrowdale the pleasant and luscious spring is heralded by the cuckoo. The locals of old wanted to perpetuate this bountiful and happy time of the year and believed that if they could keep the cuckoo then they would also keep the spring.
They built a wall across the valley, perhaps at the Jaws of Borrowdale, perhaps at Grange, from the top of fells on one side, to the tops on the other. They built it as high as a they could to keep the cuckoo in, and then spent a happy season safe in the belief that they had banished the cold hard winter seasons.
When the time came for the cuckoo to leave Borrowdale as was its annual habit, the locals in Borrowdale watched their wall in anticipation. To their dismay, the cuckoo cleared the wall by only a course of stone. If only they had put on one extra level of stone, they lamented!
Luckily, the cuckoo did not take offence at this attempted capture and still returns each year to let us know that spring is well and truly on its way. Even now, we still say that if you are born in Borrowdale you are a ‘Borrowdale Cuckoo’.
Did you know that our common cuckoo here in Borrowdale is a brood parasite, as are many cuckoos? This means that instead of building a nest a rearing their chicks themselves, they actually lays their eggs in other, smaller birds’ nests and leave the chicks to be reared by a different species of bird! The baby cuckoo is much bigger than the ‘adopted’ parent that feeds it – have a look at this picture of a reed warbler feeding a cuckoo chick from the wikipedia page.
You can find out more about cuckoos and their breeding habits on the Cuckoo wikipedia page.