(Picture courtesy of Wikipedia)
The sound of the cuckoo heralds the arrival of spring but unlike the swallow (Blog post April 2018) and the daily dawn chorus, even in todays lockdown when everything is quieter I have not heard the cuckoo this year - but as I rarely stop without an engine going while herding stock that is not surprising!
Having said that, the cuckoo is rarely heard or seen as it builds no nest but lays eggs in other birds nests such as robins and pied wagtails locally. This is the only bird in Great Britain to do this kind of thing. When the young cuckoo hatches it pushes all the other eggs out of the nest and is brought up by its step parents.
Cuckoo spit found in abundance in Treflach has nothing to do with the cuckoo, just folklore association. It is in fact blobs of white froth found on the leaves and stems of many plants and are the hallmark of the frog-hopper. The young of this insect expel air through a sticky secretion in their abdomens surrounding themselves with the froth while they suck up sap which serves as protection against desiccation and predators.
Cuckoo pint is a strange wildflower also called Lords and Ladies which comes out this time of year like a green sheath – the flowers smell of rotting muck which encourages small flies to pollinate – in July poisonous red berries appear - in the Elizabethan age a white starch was made from its roots.
The Cuckoo flower found in wet meadows and marshes are lilac. They come into bloom when the cuckoo arrives and disappears when the cuckoo finishes singing in June. Traditionally unlucky to pick flowers and take them in the house but the leaves can be eaten as a substitute for watercress.