Martin the Cuckoo heads for home

01 Apr 2012 | No. 2012-12

Great news! The first of the BTO’s Cuckoos is heading for home. He was tracked crossing the Sahara during Sunday 1 April.

  Martin is heading for home

Martin is one of four British Cuckoos that are being tracked by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO). Having spent three weeks in Ivory Coast he is now heading north on his spring migration.

During the afternoon of 1 April, we received a series of transmissions that showed that Martin was making his desert crossing. During the several hours of transmissions, as he moved from Mali into Algeria, he was moving over the earth’s surface at average speeds in excess of 100km (62 mph) per hour!

It is notable that Martin is the only one of our tagged Cuckoo who is more than two years old. Older birds are generally expected to arrive back before younger birds.

Sadly, the transmission period finished before Martin had completed his desert crossing and we won't receive further signals until tomorrow (3 April). We can't wait to see what he does next!

We would expect Lyster, Chris and Kasper to move north shortly but have no idea which route each will take.

See Martin’s Blog and chart Martin’s progress at:

Ten months in the life of a Cuckoo called Martin:

19 May 2011 – Ringed at Great Yarmouth in in Norfolk

Late May and June – spent time in the same part of Norfolk and the Winterton area, chasing female Cuckoos

30 June – arrived in Auvergne (France) and quickly moved on to Milan (Italy)

July – spent three weeks in Italy, leaving on 21 July

July to March – Martin’s African tour took in the countries of Chad, Nigeria, Central African Republic, Congo, Ghana and Ivory Coast.

1 April – crossed the Sahara and headed back towards Europe and (hopefully) Norfolk

The Cuckoo tracking project is being funded by the BBC Wildlife Fund, Essex & Suffolk Water, BTO supporters and individual sponsors.

To find out more about Martin's journey please visit and click on Martin's Blog.

Notes for Editors

  1. The BTO is the UK’s leading bird research organisation. Over thirty thousand birdwatchers contribute to the BTO’s surveys. They collect information that forms the basis of conservation action in the UK. The BTO maintains a staff of 100 at its offices in Norfolk, Stirling and Bangor, who analyse and publicise the results of project work. The BTO’s investigations are funded by government, industry and conservation organisations.
  2. Whilst the Cuckoo has been well studied during the breeding season here in the UK, once they head off on migration very little is known about the routes they take or where in Africa they spent the winter months. There has only been one recovery of a young bird that was found in mid-winter in Cameroon and that was 82 years ago . If we can pinpoint areas of importance then we can look at whether there are pressures there which could explain the losses of the British Cuckoo.

    For more information, please visit here.

Contact Details

Graham Appleton
(BTO Director of Communications)
Office: 01842 750050
Email: graham.appleton [at]

Images are available for use alongside this News Release.
Please contact images [at] quoting reference 2012-12

The BTO has an ISDN line available for radio interviews. Please contact us to book an interview. Office: 01842 750050

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