Have you noticed that over the last few days the cuckoo have gone silent?

Since the end of June adult cuckoo have begun their migration back to west Africa to spend the winter.

It is one of the first summer visitors to leave our shores and start their epic journey back to West and Central Africa, where they will spend the British winter alongside gorilla and sunbirds.

Hampshire cuckoo arrive back in the UK in late April; and their arrival is getting earlier each decade as a result of climate change.

READ: Embracing a 'new normal' >>> 

Although there is only one species of cuckoo in Britain they fall in to two distinct categories- wetland cuckoo and woodland/heathland cuckoo.

Wetland cuckoo arrive in the reed beds of places like Fishlake Meadows near Romsey and await the arrival of another African migrant, the reed warbler.

Romsey Advertiser: The reed warbler The reed warbler

Once the reed warbler has arrived and built its nest, the female cuckoo will lay her single egg in the reed warbler nest-timed so that the cuckoo chick will normally hatch first.

Once hatched the chick will roll the other reed warbler eggs out of the nest into the water below.

If the reed warblers have hatched, the cuckoo chick will use its beak to push the other chicks out of the nest and into the water.

READ: Plans for a coronavirus memorial garden are unveiled >>> 

It may sound incredibly cruel-but this is all about survival of the fittest and it doesn’t do much damage to the reed warbler population, as there will be far more warbler pairs than cuckoo.

Amazingly the adult reed warbler don’t appear to notice that the chick is not theirs.

Scientists have no idea how cuckoo are able to get away with this act of piracy-as the chick cuckoo will grow to 4-5 times the size of the host bird, and still the parent warbler will go on feeding it until it flies.

Our “other” cuckoo are woodland and heathland birds, and like to use dunnock and meadow pipit nests if possible.

Romsey Advertiser: A cuckooA cuckoo

These cuckoo lay eggs that mimic their woodland host and are different in appearance to the eggs laid by wetland cuckoo.

Given this is just one species-how incredible that it can lay different coloured eggs to mimic different hosts!

Scientists remain baffled as to how specific cuckoo can adapt their egg colour to particular hosts, but it is another example of how little we know about nature.

The parents will have long since flown back to Africa when the young birds finally leave their nest.

And what a weird start to their lives; reared by a different species-they will now make an epic 3,000 miles journey to Congo without ever having been told the route or ever meeting their parents.

And yet there is evidence that the young cuckoo will spend the winter maybe just metres from the parent bird and yet their paths will never cross…

Our cuckoo are in trouble.

READ: Romsey pupils take their music lessons outdoors >>> 

A combination of habitat loss, shifting climate and lack of insects for food are all responsible for rapidly declining numbers.

But this year, the spring was warm and long and so it looks like 2020 may be a better year than most.

If you want to do your bit for cuckoo, remember to keep some of your grass uncut and plant some wildflowers.

With more insects around, there will be more food for cuckoo and a greater chance that more young birds will survive the migration each year.

And in just six months’ time, our young cuckoo will begin making their journey back to the UK for next spring……