26/08/2013
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Cuckoo update – more birds on the move

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Chance was tagged near Stronachlachar, Loch Katrine, Scotland, on 15 May 2012. He reached Niger on 8 August 2013. Photo by Phil Atkinson (www.bto.org).
Chance was tagged near Stronachlachar, Loch Katrine, Scotland, on 15 May 2012. He reached Niger on 8 August 2013. Photo by Phil Atkinson (www.bto.org).

Another two Common Cuckoos from a comprehensive tracking programme have made it to Africa, with just five remaining in Europe, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has revealed.

In our last report, 10 birds had successfully migrated to Africa. The latest satellite data from the BTO confirms that two more have joined their compatriots: Chance arrived in Niger on 8 August and Skinner was in Mali the following day.

The five birds lingering in Europe are in France (Nelson), Italy (Patch), Montenegro (David) and Spain (Whortle and Dart).

It’s not all good news, unfortunately, and as of 21 August data from Ryder appeared to show that he didn’t complete crossing the Sahara Desert. The BTO commented: “He has now been in the middle of the desert for five days. We think it is likely that he did not have the fuel reserves needed to complete the journey, and was unable to feed up in the barren landscape in which he stopped.”

Despite this, it does seem that conditions have been much more favourable for the tagged cuckoos this year, with 12 safely across the Sahara. By contrast most of the birds tagged in 2012 didn't make it to Africa. Common Cuckoo is Red listed in the UK as one of our fastest-declining species. The BTO's ongoing tracking project will reveal significant data about the birds' migratory journeys, helping us to understand what happens to them when they aren't in Britain and allowing conservationists to create comprehensive plans to protect this iconic species of the British summertime.

Find out more about the cuckoos and the satellite-tracking project.

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Written by: Birdwatch news team