Jaqui's Daily Blog

Cuckoos, a Snake Dinner and a Very Welcome Drink

Now here’s something to think about.


You are a cuckoo. (OK, I know, just bear with me, will you, I promise it will get better.) As I say, you are a cuckoo and your mother deposited you, while you were still an egg and therefore in your infancy, in a reed warbler’s nest.  Your mother, you have probably gathered by now, was not the maternal type. Sorry to tell you but she didn’t have a maternal bone in her body. She was perfectly happy to leave you with Mrs Reed Warbler and fly off, goodness only knows where, without so much as a second thought. You won’t find her turning up on TV's “Long Lost Family” asking lovely Nicky Campbell to trace you and all your other siblings whom she has abandoned over the years. 


When you hatched out of your egg you, quite understandably, thought you were a reed warbler. Mrs Reed Warbler, unaware that your mother had flown off with her egg and left you, a Changeling, in the nest, also thought you were a reed warbler, albeit a strange looking creature. But mothers (apart from cuckoos) love their young, no matter what they look like, so she did her very best by you. She fed you, wondering all the time why you were growing so very big and trying to forgive you when you pushed your adopted brothers and sisters out of the nest. 


Then as Autumn arrived, you had that strange feeling that you didn’t belong.  Lots of teenagers feel that way, it's a Fact of Life. Off you flew, two thousand miles away, to the hot plains of Africa where you stayed until the lure of England drew you back in the Spring.  Another two thousand miles and you were back, right where you started out as an egg and the whole cycle started again.


I know all this because today I was out with my fellow Questers at beautiful Pulborough Brooks Nature Reserve and our volunteer guide told us the story of the cuckoo. Well, he didn’t exactly tell it in the same way as I did, I have kind of embroidered it a little. But the facts are the facts and last year RSPB staff and volunteers ringed lots of cuckoos before they set off (the cuckoos, that is, not the RSPB bods) for their winter sojourn in the sun. And, guess what, this summer they are back – the very same cuckoos, having made the four thousand miles return journey to the Brooks. They must like it there.


I like it there too, despite the fact that it is sizzling hot today. I am well armed with a baseball cap, a large bottle of water and lashings of suncream. Mr B has not accompanied me on this occasion on account of the fact that The Open Golf Championship started today, as did the Second Test Match against Australia.  He has been in his element all day, patio doors wide open to allow him to enjoy the garden and the sunshine from the coolness of our lounge – and no annoying wife to keep disturbing him just as the play started to get interesting.  


Twelve of us meet up for our two hour trip around the reserve. Our volunteer guides lead us on a gentle amble, stopping every so often to point out something we would definitely have missed, were it not for them.  They set up their Super Duper Binoculars trained on the herons, or the ringed plover, and all we have to do is look and wonder. There's a buzzard, wheeling above the trees with a snake in his beak, making its way back to the chicks in its nest. “Snake for dinner today!” I can almost hear him call. 


After lunch in the cafe (no, not snake – an egg mayonnaise sandwich, if you really need to know) three of us went on a trip of discovery to Wiggonholt Church just a short walk from the car park at the Reserve.  Such a pretty little church, still lit by stately looking oil lamps.  On a seat near the table on which the Visitors Book was perched, a bottle of water, some beakers and a note inviting visitors like us to help ourselves to a refreshing drink before going on our way.


So kind, so welcoming, so very hospitable to those who just drop by.  A bit like Mrs Reed Warbler....

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Latest comments

23.04 | 20:15

lovely and heartwarming - an inspiration to us all x

09.03 | 12:07

Love this story told as ever beautifully.x

10.11 | 21:31

What a super account of a special event. I loved meeting you last night and seeing your creation come together. I’m so pleased you got so much from the activity

07.09 | 13:17

I have broad shoulders x

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