Cuckoo – first and last dates

Cuculus canorus – COG – Breeding summer visitor. Not recorded in January, February, October and November

Earlier records are summarised in Cuckoo 1994

YearFirst sightingLast sighting
199319 April24 July
1994to be added
199521 April21 August
199617 April18 September
199719 April6 October
199827 April24 July
199915 April10 August
200018 April5 September
200119 April5 October
200224 April6 August
200317 April11 November
200413 March21 August
200516 April10 September
200619 April28 July
200725 April25 August
200822 April9 September
20092 Aprilno autumn records
20103 Aprilno autumn records
201116 April27 July
201223 March25 June
201319 April2 August
201420 April19 July
201517 April6 August
201621 Aprilno autumn records
201718 April26 July
201818 April10 August
20194 April25 July
202022 April19 July

More about the Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire

Cuckoo – 2003-07 breeding

Cuculus canorus – COG – Breeding summer visitor. Not recorded in January, February, October and November

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed101
Breeding probable15769
Breeding possible4410
No of tetrads occupied211 (of 478)80 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads44.1%16.3%

Cuckoos were found in only 80 tetrads between 2003 and 2007 compared with more than 200 tetrads 20 years ago (a decline of about 62%). All atlas categories registered huge declines.

What is most apparent is that the population is now reasonably widespread only in the open country of the Preselis and on the St. David’s peninsula. Their recorded distribution here in 2003-07 was fairly similar to that of the 1984-88 atlas period. Both these areas probably support potentially good populations of ground-nesting host species (such as Meadow Pipit). They have all but disappeared as a regular breeding species in the south of the county and along the Teifi valley bordering Ceredigion. Surprisingly, Cuckoos appear to have declined along the Castlemartin peninsula where there are still good populations of potential host species within the extensive Military Range.

In 1984-88 it was assumed that the Pembrokeshire Cuckoo population was about 210 pairs (approx one pair per occupied tetrad). The most recently available figures from BBS (Wales) indicate that there has been a 52% decline in the Cuckoo population index between 1994 and 2007. According to a BTO Report (Say Goodbye to the Cuckoo), the national Cuckoo population showed a decline of more than 60% across the country during the period 1981-2006. Because of this population fall, Cuckoos have been added to the “red-list” of birds of conservation concern. The decline in the number of tetrads in which they were found in Pembrokeshire (62%) very much mirrors the national picture over the same period.

If the decline in Pembrokeshire is between 52% (based on the Welsh BBS results, albeit from only 56 sample sites across of Wales) and about 62% (based on the decline in tetrad distribution) – this would suggest a current estimated population of no more than 80-109 pairs, now largely confined to optimal habitat in the north of the County. Because Cuckoos calling in early spring may still be on migration, it is probably better to consider only those tetrads with probable or confirmed breeding evidence; this suggests a population of no more than 70 pairs in the recent atlas period.

The Cuckoo may be the victim of a variety of factors. They may be struggling to find enough food during the breeding season here in the UK and also suffering a similar fate on their wintering grounds in Africa. Declining habitat quality may also be affecting host species such as Meadow Pipit and Dunnock (species also showing signs of decline nationally) and thus affecting the ability for Cuckoos to rear a sufficient number of young each year needed to maintain a stable population.

Bob Haycock (BTO rep & Chairman of the Pembs Bird Group)

More about the Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire

Cuckoo – 1994

Cuculus canorus – COG – Breeding summer visitor. Not recorded in January, February, October and November

1984-88
Breeding confirmed10
Breeding probable157
Breeding possible44
No of tetrads occupied211 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads44.1%

Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) agreed that the Cuckoo was a common visitor, although Lockley (1957) wrote that it was never an abundant species in the county. Saunders (1976) classified it as being a common summer visitor.

The Breeding Birds Survey of 1984-1988 found a varying density across the county, Cuckoos being encountered most frequently south of the Cleddau Estuary and from the Preseli Mountains northwards. Assuming an average of one pair per tetrad, the county total would be about 210 pairs. Numbers vary from year to year, presumably according to how they have fared on migration and at their wintering grounds in sub-equatorial Africa. Several observers considered that Cuckoos became scarce in 1985 and 1986 but subsequently recovered their numbers.

Cuckoos normally arrive in Pembrokeshire during the second half of April but earlier birds are occasionally seen, from 1 April; one was recorded at Poppit on 21 March 1985.

Their late summer departure, which is less dramatic than the spring arrival, commences in July and ceases by mid-September. One at Little Milford on 21 and 22 December 1954 was only the second to have been recorded in Britain at such a late date.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

LOCKLEY, R.M. 1957. Pembrokeshire. London, Robert Hale.

SAUNDERS, D.R. 1976. A brief guide to the birds of Pembrokeshire. Five Arches Press.

More about the Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire

Cuckoo – 1894

Cuculus canorus – A common summer visitor.

The Cuckoo appears to delight in the mountain parts of the county. We used to look out for its first appearance at Stone Hall, in the last week of April, and the 20th of that month is the earliest date on which we first welcomed its familiar cry. We heard a Cuckoo one year calling as late as at the end of the first week in July; it is unusual to hear the voice of the Cuckoo after mid-summer. By the banks of the Cleddy Cuckoos were specially numerous. While we have been fishing we have heard six or seven calling at once, and the birds were constantly flying back-wards and forwards about the stream.

Mr. Tracy observes that he never found a Cuckoo’s egg, except in the nests of the Meadow Pipit and the Tree Pipit, but the birds avail themselves, doubtless, of a larger selection than this of small birds to take charge of their introduced young. Mr. Mortimer Propert met with its egg in the nests of the Meadow Pipit, Sky-lark, Hedge-sparrow, and Robin. The nest of the common Pied Wagtail is very often chosen.

Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of Pembrokeshire and its Islands

More about the Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire

Cuckoo

Cuculus canorus – COG – Breeding summer visitor.

Cuckoo – 2003-07 breeding

Cuculus canorus – COG – Breeding summer visitor. Not recorded in January, February, October and November Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 10 1 Breeding probable 157 69 Breeding possible 44 10 No of tetrads occupied 211 (of 478) 80 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 44.1% 16.3% Cuckoos were found in only 80 […]

Cuckoo – 1994

Cuculus canorus – COG – Breeding summer visitor. Not recorded in January, February, October and November 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 10 Breeding probable 157 Breeding possible 44 No of tetrads occupied 211 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 44.1% Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949) agreed that the Cuckoo was a common visitor, although Lockley (1957) wrote that […]

Cuckoo – 1968-72 breeding

Red = breeding confirmed Orange = breeding probable Yellow = breeding possible More about the Cuckoo in Pembrokeshire

Cuckoo – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

Cuckoo – 1894

Cuculus canorus – A common summer visitor. The Cuckoo appears to delight in the mountain parts of the county. We used to look out for its first appearance at Stone Hall, in the last week of April, and the 20th of that month is the earliest date on which we first welcomed its familiar cry. We heard a Cuckoo one […]