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British Element Trieste Force 1945 - 1954
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You remember:

Spring is sprung; de grass is ris
I wonder where de boidies is
De boid is on the wing but that's absoid
Because de wing is on de boid.

Apparently the cuckoo is now endangered and certainly we have not heard a single one this year. I've heard nothing about woodpeckers being in trouble but we've neither heard nor seen anything of them either.

We seen two families of blackbirds and two families of wren raised in the garden, all nesting in pyracanthas on the back of the house or on the fence.

Pyracantha gives excellent dense protection for birds and it gives good value too as a garden plant. Even when there is no blossom and the birds have stripped all the berries it's an attractive wall covering. You need to make sure you can get a ladder to it to keep it in trim because it can get away from you.

The magpies have disappeared and there is no sign of a nest. I think the squirrels have seen them off.


I'm going to inflict some more poetry on you - from 1260:

Sumer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed and bloweth med
And springs the wde new.
Sing, uccu!

In modern English:
Summer is a coming in
Loudly sing cuckoo!
Theseed grows and the meadow blooms
And the wood springs anew.
Sing, Cuckoo!

So the cuckoo has been part of the English Spring and Summer for at least seven centuries yet I didn't realise - till I saw last night's Springwatch - that they're not just lying low till we hear the first cuckoo of Spring; they migrate to Central Eastern Africa and that to get here they have to cross the Sahara desert which, because of global warming, is growing fast and is now 1,200 miles across at its narrowest point.

So the poor little sods not only have to fly all that way with no stopovers but they have to run the guantlet of all the bird catchers en route. So the main reason they're getting rare is nothing to do with poorer habitats here. And it's no wonders they don't build their own nests; they're too knackered.

We still haven't heard one. Has anyone?


Harry, Have you taken lessons in Suffick ole Boh?.
I hear a Cuckoo most mornings,and caught a glimpes of it in a Fir Tree,at the bottom of my Garden.I would guess it is eyeing up one of the Blackbirds nests,to lay its egg in. Maybe it has already found one as i found an egg,that had been removed from the Blackbirds nest,and the female is sitting on the nest.Let you know later ,when they hatch,as normally the Cuckoo chick,kicks the other chicks out.
There is one Bird that has vanished for a long while,the YELLOWHAMMER,it was always seen around,could be the Farming methods have changed,and there is not the habitat where they once fed.


Hi Harry
That dense bush you descibe(Pyrancatha)sounds like the the blood sucking monster outside our patio door,
the same one that at the moment houses two Blackbirds nests four feet apart. Something I have never known before,my two grandaughters came few days ago and asked if there were any eggs in the nests. Like the old fool that I am-my wife's words- I reached up to check,and immediatley the bush attacked me, one thorn stuck in my hand and another put a two inch gash on my arm, since I take Warfarin of course there was claret everywhere. The usual cry went up- Nana grandads cut himself again- so dear readers, beware it is out their waiting its chance.


That's it Ray. Not something to muck about with; that's why it's so good for nests.

I find I have to trim it as soon as it sends out shoots where I don't want them. The branches, after a very short time, become thick and very hard. I have some extending loppers and a stout pair of gloves.

But it is nice. The blossom is just forming here. It's a dense white blossom but it doesn't last long. The one on the house has bright red berries which would last all Winter if the birds didn't get them The one on the fence has bright orange berries.

You can get a spray to keep the birds off them but who would want that?


I used to have a pyracantha at the right side of my house (sunny-side) where it eventually grew to about eight feet tall and abot four feet wide. I used to put on leather gloves and take long handled lobbers and keep it trimmed. It was a favorite of the birds because of the berries and the thorns which kept the cats out.

One day I brushed up against it and drew blood in several locations on my arms and back. That was when that bush came out. I cut it to the ground and dug out the roots.

To make amends to the wildlife, I planted a row of barberry bushes along side my front yard. That turned out to be a very satisfactory substitute for the pyracantha. I could not shape it but I sure could keep it trimmed with less personal injury and the birds love it, probably even more than the pyracantha.

By the way, one family of doves have come and gone and a second female is on the old nest. The same thing is happening with my bird houses. (I made a shelf for the doves) I also have new families in my three small houses; both wrens and sparrows.



Re cuckoos: by coincidence, in Waterstones this morning I came across a book by a guy called McCarthy ( I've forgotten his first name - but it was two hours ago - called The End of the Cuckoo (or something like that) and the blurb said that all migratory birds are under threat for the same reason.

Apparently the savannah regions of Africa are their favourite Winter destinations.

So Fred, if you are still getting cuckoos, you're a rare bird yourself.