It’s official, it’s going to be a good summer.

Before I moved to my wee hoose about an hour north of the Loire Valley eleven years ago, I’d never even heard of a hoopoe, let alone seen one.

In my third summer here I remember looking out of the kitchen window up the front garden and seeing two birds, the like of which I’d never seen before. Pinky brown in colour, long thin beak, zebra striped wings with what appeared to be some form of crest on the head.


I’m not a twitcher, but I do like to know what’s pottering around in my garden so my trusty bird recognition book was dusted off and the hoopoe, latin name Upapa Epops came into my world.

Its a bird that generally lives in Africa and southern Europe, so, I was assured, visits to my northern neck of the woods were rare indeed.

When I explained excitedly to some friends back in the UK I was told a tale of how someone once came into an office and explained she’d seen this type of bird on her way to work and three twitchers immediately pinned her against the wall, gave her the Spanish inquisition and left, with their flasks full and beards trimmed, to go and track it down, such is its rarity in northern areas.


Since that first time, eight years ago, I see or hear (a very distinctive call, from where it gets its name) it most summers and I use it as a very unscientific barometer of how good my summer’s going to be. Living in Bretagne its generally accepted that summer’s will be rubbish, but the earlier I see or hear them the better I think its going to be.

I saw my first hoopoe of this year three days ago, it was right outside my kitchen window, crest down but those wings are unmistakeable. I saw it on the day I heard my first cuckoo of the year. This is unheard of (in my large scientific study) there are normally at least two months between the cuckoo and the hoopoe.

This means (a proven fact) that a good summer will be had. Hurrah for the hoopoe.


About bobleponge216

Elderly rotund toothless male seeks wilderness to travel to.
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12 Responses to It’s official, it’s going to be a good summer.

  1. Clare Channing says:

    Interestingly, I saw one yesterday. It flew up on front of my car – I would have been mortified if I had hit it. I shouted Hopoe and my friend thought it was a hitherto unhead of swear word!
    They are beautiful birds lets hope you are right about the summer x

    Liked by 2 people

    • Do you get them all year round down there? I’ve never seen one this early here, they are generally summer only visitors. Glad you didn’t hit it, they’re such stunning birds.


  2. Hurrah indeed. We could do with a good, long, hot, dry (aka proper) summer.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You must get more good than bad ones down that neck of the woods?
      Here we have two seasons generally, winter and 15 August.

      Liked by 2 people

      • That reminds me of a line Jack Benny came out with on Sunday Night at the London Palladium in the 1960s. In typical pose; his chin resting on on hand, its elbow supported by the other arm; he quipped: “I’m sorry I couldn’t be here for your summer, but I just couldn’t get a flight that day.” BOOM-BOOM!

        Liked by 2 people

  3. clarechanning says:

    Summer visitor here too Chris. I usually hear them about the same time as the Golden Oriole and I rarely see either but, come to think of it, the swallows haven’t arrived yet so they must be early. As Keith said, hurrah!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Alex Hurst says:

    It’s a beautiful bird. We get the cuckoo bird in Japan, of course, and it’s very important culturally to the spring/summer atmosphere, but I’ve never seen something so colorful! The closest we get here are Kingfishers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The cuckoo here in France has a very funny custom attached to it. When you hear your first cuckoo of the year, if you have coins in your pocket you have to rub them together. This is supposed to bring wealth for the coming year. I’ve still never heard my first one with coins in my pockets, thus I’m still skint.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Alex Hurst says:

        That’s an adorable custom! I may have to try it here, because man am I poor. XD they suggest befriending cats with coins on their forehead here… Maneko. 😛

        Liked by 1 person

      • Love that. The French countryside is full of cats. The French are so tight that they wont sterilise their cats, they just chuck the kittens out to fend for themselves very early. I’ve adopted a few but there are only so many I can feed.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Frank Shaylor says:

    I have just move to France, the Oriental Pyrenees, and have just seen one in my garden. Hope this means a good summer to follow, as my first month here has been very wet and windy. I also heard a cuckoo this week. Frank


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