Last night I attended a lecture, at Plymouth University organised by their Biological Sciences Department and co-funded by the Linnaean Society, given by Professor Nick Davies of Cambridge University entitled Cuckoo: Cheating by Nature.
The lecture summarised Nick’s lifetime work on the behavioural ecology of the cuckoo – most of his work having been carried out at Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire.
The lecture was based around his recently published book – Cuckoo: cheating by nature which I reviewed last year see here. In my opinion it is the best natural history book I have ever read.
Cuckoo: cheating by nature has also recently won the British Birds / British Trust for Ornithology Book of the Year 2015 – here is a photo of Nick receiving his award from Dawn Balmer of the BTO (from BB Magazine March 2016)
It was a fabulous and well attended lecture. It was really good to see and briefly talk to Nick again – I left Wicken Fen 12 years ago where I was the Property Manager for the National Trust. Happy days!
During his talk Nick made a couple of references to the cuckoo work being carried out on Dartmoor by Professor Charles Tyler and his team. That team – the Dartmoor Upland Bird Nest Group have been fundraising to help with this season’s field work – to date they have raised over £3000 – you can read their latest update here where you can also donate to help the research on cuckoos.
This research is essential – Nick ended his talk by describing the decline of the cuckoo at Wicken Fen -down from 15-20 ‘pairs’ a couple of decades ago to only 4-5 ‘pairs’ now. Dartmoor and Exmoor remain as strongholds for the species now in England and it is vital that the ongoing research unravels the reasons behind these wider declines so that these can be addressed.
As Nick said at the beginning of his talk – only six weeks to go and the cuckoos will be back – can’t wait.