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Last call for cuckoo at Home Farm?

(May 24, 2015)

AFTER a gap of at least 10 years VFW's Steve Dancey has heard a cuckoo in Warminster - and it should give planners some food for thought.

Steve said: "Cuckoos used to be heard on an almost hourly basis in the Boreham area in springtime when I was living in Smallbrook Lane in the early 1960s - before the building of the Prestbury estate. However I've not heard one anywhere in the town for at least 10 years. Until now.

~On Saturday evening at about 7.15pm I was cycling back to Warminster from Heytesbury when I heard the unforgettable call of this now rare bird. I was in Boreham almost at the junction for Grange Lane.

"The bird was calling from the direction of Home Farm, a site some  would like to see developed. Of course we need additional homes but how sad it would be if some people had their way and Home Farm was earmarked for development. No more cuckoos if that happens.

"The sound got me thinking of the other birds that were present 40 years ago.

"I remember in the 1970s that that my aunt had a red backed shrike in her garden on a regular basis in the newly built Corner Ground development. Now that bird is extinct in Britain.

"Lapwings used to nest in the shadow of Scratchbury Hill opposite Norton Bavant but are now seldom seen at all.

"I can even recall people in Heytesbury saying they had seen turtle doves - now long gone from our countryside, at least in this part of Wiltshire

"When the Labour government was in power I remember there was a plan to measure 'success' by checking on biodiversity and counting the number of birds. That was an imaginative idea but it seems to have been lost as untrammelled capitalism continues to threaten our natural world."

Perhaps it is time for the RSPB, Britain's biggest charity, to flex its muscles in the political arena before it is too late.


NOTE _ Danny Howell says that Corner Ground was not built until 1981 but I distinctly recall hearing about 'the butcher birtd' the summer after I attended a weekend away on a school trip at Oxenwood in December 1973. That winter we saw abother shrike - the great grey shrike. The red backed shrike must have been seen in my aunts previous garden, a couple of hundred yards away in Boreham.

Danny also says there are several cuckoos in the area - good, but they must have been calling softly as most people never get to hear them.

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