Country diary: While I was watching pipit and cuckoo, so was something else – Rights History
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Country diary: While I was watching pipit and cuckoo, so was something else

Carneddi, Nantmor, Gwynedd: With migration looming, the foster parent is feeding up the fledgling

With my back to an oak tree in the last copse below Carneddi’s fridd wall, I focus my glass on a low branch where a tree pipit is feeding a young cuckoo. Pale green caterpillars dangling from the pipit’s bill contrast neatly with the pink of this foster parent’s lower mandible. The cuckoo, plump and ungainly, gorges itself and looks for more. The pipit flies up into the foliage to oblige, and swiftly returns with another neat rack of fuel for the immense journey to sub-Saharan Africa on which this youngster will soon embark.

As I watch, the fledgling drops from the branch. With wings acutely angled downwards, its barred form flies strongly down-valley, heading across tawny grass and heather before careering back to the oak branch again. It alights awkwardly, the pipit once more in rapid attendance.

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