It’s not so simple being the cuckoo in the nest

A juvenile cuckoo

A juvenile cuckoo

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Isuppose most folk will be familiar with the fact that cuckoos lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, writes George Hogg (Hogg Estate Services).

I have watched adult female cuckoos in spring acting suspiciously as they spy upon the comings and goings of smaller birds, trying to work out the location of their nest.

Having deposited a single egg in the nest of this hapless meadow pipit, the female cuckoo would then have set off back to Africa without a care in the world.

As soon as it hatches, the tiny cuckoo shoves the other eggs out of the nest.

This, of course ensures, all food brought to the nest by the unwitting foster parents will be consumed by the ever growing cuckoo chick.

Very soon the chick will be bigger than either parent, and will just keep on growing daily, soon out growing the small nest.

It is not unusual for parent birds to perch on top of the enormous chick in order to feed it.

When the chick fledges and forges out into the surrounding countryside the parents will follow as seems to be happening in my picture taken recently at Torness.

Still they will hunt non-stop for insect prey to satisfy “their” chick.

Mind you, I did not see an actual feed taking place, so I cannot be sure the pipits were actually the parents.

Meadow pipits hate cuckoos and will mob them just as any small bird scolds a predator.

These pipits may therefore simply have been mobbing a passing juvenile cuckoo.

That seems the most likely reason for their presence.

However, they did not seem particularly agitated and I still feel their behaviour was parental rather than aggressive.

Either way , I count myself as very lucky to have come upon the scene and managed to grab a few photographs before the party departed.