Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Cuckoos.

During the summer of 2011 five Cuckoos in the UK - Lyster/Clement/Kasper/Martin/Chris - were tagged with tracking devices, I decided to sponsor Clement.  


As a result of the tagging there have been a few surprises, the first of which was the fact that Clement left the UK at the early date of 5 June, three of the others left at the end of June which was still an early date for the departure of Cuckoos on their migratory journey south, and the last one left on 22 July.  

Courtesy of BTO.

The Cuckoos presented some more surprises in that they took on a variety of routes with one bird choosing to go due east across the North Sea to the Netherlands, the others can be tracked using the map above and linking the name/colour on the left of the map.

Clement was soon in the news again, leaving France by heading west towards Spain and was followed by the last bird to leave the UK which also headed towards Spain....a brand new migration route. These two Cuckoos decided to minimise the distance of the Sahara crossing - a major source of mortality amongst migrant birds - by moving down the western edge of the desert and into Senegal and the Gambia, in doing so they became the first ever British Cuckoos to be recorded in West Africa.

Clement also showed that at least some Cuckoos migrate across the Sahara by night and day, not just during the cooler temperatures of darkness, in fact on one day he had moved in excess of 200 miles across the desert in the extreme heat of the scorching sun.

By the end of November all five birds had reached as far as the Congo rainforest, including the two that took the much longer western route. All these Cuckoos had been caught in the UK within 70km of each other, yet had been separated by up to 3,600km at times during migration. By the end of December all five birds were in the Congo, the first time they had all been in the same country since leaving the UK.

There are a few things to ponder over these five Cuckoos, whats their next move when the time comes for northwards migration, which route will they/do they take, will they survive the journey, will you see a Cuckoo this summer, how many did you see last year....I saw none but heard three.

Keep up to date with this astonishing story/project and find out for yourself HERE 

Cuckoo ~ Runner-up on Birdguides POTY Competition
Cuckoo.David Cookson. 

Not just a photograph of a juvenile Cuckoo but a simply brilliant one thanks to DC....I wonder if this one is in Congo right now too!


Christian said...

That Cuckoo image of DC's is just incredible eh?

Marc Heath said...

What a shot and an interesting read.

Geoff Gradwell said...

Intersting stuff Pete. Thanks

Warren Baker said...

Fascinating about the Cuckoo's Pete. To have 5 birds rung, and all of them arrive safely in Africa suggests to me that its not the journey out that is the problem, as you say it remains to be seen if they all make it back safely, if they do it would seem to me the problem lies with the habitat degradation of this country. Lots to learn still though :-)