01/08/2012
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Three make it to Chad

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Mungo, BB and Chris — Cuckoos tagged in Scotland, Scotland and England respectively — are now in Chad. All three birds passed through Italy on their way south. Mungo and Chris took a more westerly route; after leaving the UK, Chris spent some time in Belgium before moving through Switzerland to Italy; Mungo too a very similar route and both birds made landfall in Africa on the Libyan coast. From there, they crossed the Sahara and settled in western Chad, close to Lake Chad. Lake Chad is an important area for migrants and, it seems, our Cuckoos: Mungo and Chris are no exception. It is a large inland freshwater lake that is under severe threat. It has shrunk by as much as 90% since the 1960s due to climate change and water extraction.

BB took a more easterly bearing from the start, heading from Scotland to southeast Germany close to the Czech border. From there he headed south to central Italy before turning southeast again and making landfall after his Mediterranean crossing in Egypt close to the Libyan border — this is the furthest east any of our Cuckoos have yet been recorded. From there he headed south with transmissions showing that by 28th July he was in North Sudan. By 30th July he had moved 120 miles due west and had crossed the border into Chad. BB is on a similar latitude to Chris and Mungo, though they are separated by 760km (475 miles).


Three Cuckoos make it to Chad: the most recent locations of, from left to right, Mungo, Chris, and BB. (Data: BTO/Map: ©Google).

For many of the other Cuckoos there has been little change in their location. Indeed, Indy — tagged in Wales — is still in the same position as he was during mid-July; but in his case, all has not been as static as it seems. On 23rd July, signals suggested Indy was over the Mediterranean southeast of Sicily, but by 25th July his tag was transmitting from the west coast of Italy northwest of Rome. Remarkably, by 27th July he had retraced his steps and was back at the Po watershed — exactly where he had been nine days earlier! At the time of his U-turn, it's likely that Indy would have been battling with a strong headwind as he crossed the Mediterranean and it might have been this that forced him to turn around and return to an area where he knew the feeding was good.


Indy's latest movements (Data: BTO/Map: ©Google).

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Over in the west, Reacher is in southern Spain; Lyster, who took the Iberian route south last year, is also in Spain, close to the Catalan town of Lleida. The route that John might be taking, currently in southwestern France, is not so obvious — he first passed south from France into Spain across the central eastern Pyrenees but then turned WNW, heading back towards the western Pyrenees; by 25th July, he had crossed back north into France.


John's Pyrenean tour (Data: BTO/Map: ©Google).

The latest from all the Cuckoos can be found online on the BTO Cuckoo blog pages. Meanwhile, Idemili continues to do well; you can read about her progress here.

Written by: BTO