Devon Cuckoo comes back to life


A Cuckoo named Tor has come back to life, having been given up for lost in the Congo rainforest. Tagged on Dartmoor last summer as part of a project by the British Trust for Ornithology supported by the Dartmoor National Park authority and Devon Birds, Tor vanished in the second largest rainforest on earth during early December 2013. However, on 2nd March 2014 he reappeared, transmitting 450 miles further north, from the northern edge of the forest in the Central African Republic, close to the border with Cameroon.

Dr Chris Hewson, lead scientist on the project at the BTO, said: "I had a sneaking suspicion that we might hear from Tor again and I am absolutely delighted to have been proven right. When we last heard from Tor the information from his tag suggested that the tag wasn't quite working properly and that it might have failed. However, we know that these birds can be vulnerable to the weather, predators and even to human hunters during the winter months in Central Africa, so, it was a huge relief when Tor popped up again."

Cuckoo, Dartmoor, Devon (Photo: Steve Hatch)

He added, "He isn't out of the woods yet though. He has only just completed the first leg of his journey back to the UK. He has another 7,000km (4,300 miles) to cover before he gets back to Dartmoor, which will include a stopover in West Africa, the crossing of the Sahara Desert, a flight over the Mediterranean and southern Europe, before arriving here any time from late April."

Naomi Barker, Ecologist for the Dartmoor National Park Authority, said: "We were thrilled to see Tor reappear on the map. Four Cuckoos had been tagged on Dartmoor last year, and we had already lost two Cuckoos on migration, as well as being faced with potentially having lost Tor. It shows how necessary it is to continue with this project, as new and exciting discoveries continue to be made, helping us understand the worrying decline of Cuckoos."

Tor is part of a project to find out what Cuckoos in Devon do once they leave for the winter. You can follow Tor's journey at www.dartmoor.gov.uk/cuckoo or www.devonbirds.org.uk. He is also part of a wider project that is currently following 12 Cuckoos as they make their way back to the UK; to follow the progress of the entire dozen, log on to the BTO Cuckoos webpage.

The Devon project is joint funded by Dartmoor National Park Authority and Devon Birds, and is part of a national project run by the British Trust for Ornithology.

Written by: BTO