CUCKOO ORCHESTRA SINGS ON MANGERTON

Frank Lewis

The Foot of Mangerton

“It could arrive anytime now” I had been thinking from early April, in that most magical pre-sunrise hour.   Then at 6.14 on Tuesday April 14 loud and clear from the east ‘cuck-oo’.

            Home at the foot of Mangerton is a great nature observation point.   “Walking in the National Park every day since mid March,’ a friend living in Killarney town said to me yesterday, “at the beginning the trees were bare.   You could see the change every day.”   Now the lush, heavy leaf canopy is at its peak spring vibrancy.

Dawn Chorus

            For months the hour before the sun comes up over the horizon the strength of the dawn chorus has been increasing.   These weeks it is at its peak.   Come out about 4.45.   Shortly the faint twittering of the small birds – finches, tits, robins – very quickly beoming a great wall of sound.   From the earlystages the thrush and blackbird become the virtuosa performers.

            In the emerging daylight of the birth f a new day signs of the evolving avalanche of Spring blossom.   An early sign in sunshine the searing orange yellow of the lesser celandine.   The sally or willow catkins,  The extended flowering of daffodils this year.  

Hawthorn white-washing

            For the first time in many years I completely missed the great carpets of bluebells in Muckross, wild garlic on Ross Island and the cherry blossom at Muckross and Killarney House.  But here on Mangerton presently clusters of the tiny creamy-white rowan flower.  Any day now the countryside will be coverd in the searingly white hawthorn flower.

            Every morning anxiously listening ‘will I hear the cuckoo today?’   Again and again this year in the deep dawn dusk he has sung before the small birds started.   Several days he rang out as early at 4.45.   Even in deciduous woodland or scrub land the cuckoo was drowning out the mass chorus of the other birds.

Searing furze flower

            Up here the occasional purple rhododendron is in bloom.   Crab apples trees are beginning to blossom.   I am missing the lush azaleas and rhododendrons in our great gardens but the compensation of the searing orange yellow of the furze all over the Mangerton commonage is now at its strongest.

            Last Thursday (May 7) I did not hear the cuckoo.   Was this the end – or was it the strong breeze?   And then .. will last Friday ever be equalled?   ‘Get up now if you want to hear the cuckoo’

Siubhan jumped out of bed.  From our kitchen door he couldn’t have been more than a field away.

Cuckoo orchestra

            Between then and 5.45 the song came in turns and at the same time from the south east, the south, the south west and the west.   At its height, allowing for cuckoo’s search flight, there must have been two or even three birds.    It really was an orchestra of cuckoo song with a chorus of all of the other birds.   And the cuckoo song continued yesterday and this morning.

            The never ending enchantment of nature.   And its all outside all of our doors.

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