THIS is the rare moment that a cuckoo has been caught flying through the air with an egg resting in its beak.

Stephen Davies caught the unusual moment when he stopped in the countryside near the Ochil Hills.

He got his camera out when he spotted a cuckoo flying from the nest and could not believe his eyes when he noticed a full egg resting gently in between its beak.

The 48-year-old from Tullibody, Clackmannanshire, did not realise how unusual the picture was until he checked his camera at home.

The phone shop manager said: "Two cuckoos actually flew in front of me. I stopped and got the camera out of the car and captured the female cuckoo carrying the egg.

"It looks like she found a nest then removed the eggs to lay her own eggs.

"I didn't know I had actually captured it. So when I got home I noticed it in my pictures, I knew it was something I've never seen before.

"I knew it was a female cuckoo when I saw the colouring of the bird.

"It's very rare to catch it on camera."

A spokesman, from the Scottish Wildlife Trust, says it is unusual to see a European cuckoo "flying with an egg".

He said: "Cuckoos are brood parasites that lay eggs in the nest of other birds, typically meadow pipits and reed buntings.

"The host birds bring up the cuckoo chicks as if they were they own, even though they are often much bigger than the parent bird.

"They will usually push other eggs out of the nest and eat them on the ground, so it is relatively unusual to see one flying off with an egg in its beak.

"It could be that there was a predator present that the cuckoo saw as competition for the egg."

Cuckoos are summer migrants that fly to Scotland from Africa for a brief time because they play no part in raising their chicks.

They are one of the first migrant birds to depart.

The birds family includes the common or European cuckoo, roadrunners, koels, malkohas, couas, coucals and anis.