When I was very young (pre-school) my mother told me about cuckoos
laying their eggs in other birds nests and how the young cuckoo would eject
the other nestlings or eggs. Swamp Pheasants excepted. To my young mind
cuckoos were nasty creatures, and Swamp Pheasants were to be admired even
if the defence mechanism of the nestlings was effective enough to make them
hard to like.
Early impressions remain and I've never worked up much interest in cuckoos.
My loss I'm sure, and I note that others find them and their annual
arrivals and departures to be of interest. So I pass on the advice of my
good friend Vicki Powys in Capertee Valley: Writing in a letter dated Aug.
29, she says, "All the cuckoos have now arrived, Pallid, Fan-tailed,
Black-eared, Horsfield's, Shining Bronze, and I occasionally hear Barking
Owls in the direction of the creek."
Vicki also comments on not seeing any Regent Honeyeaters this year. She
has seen the usual White-plumed and Fuscous, also Striped Honey-eaters,
Brown-headed, and a flock of 50 or so Noisy Friarbirds, "and last week some
Scarlet Honeyeaters moved in along the creek where they sometimes nest in
Some time ago, David Geering commented, apropos of my mentioning that the
Swallows befouling Vicki's verandah completely ignored the plastic snake I
gave her (a technique I'd used elsewhere with success), that not only is
the Capertee Valley a wonderful birding place but the birds are smarter
too. I passed this on to Vicki, who replied: "Yes of course the birds are
smarter in Capertee Valley, such an astute observation from David Geering!"
H Syd Curtis
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