Wales get their own fantastic four

No.:  2012-19
June 2012

Following on from the success of a Cuckoo satellite-tagging project in England, the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) has now fitted tags to four Cuckoos in Wales.

Cuckoo by Phil Atkinson 

In Wales the Cuckoo decline has
been much less severe.

In the spring of 2011 five male Cuckoos, dubbed the famous five, were fitted with tags in East Anglia with the aim of finding out what routes these birds took to Africa, where they stopped to rest and feed-up, and where they finally stopped to spend the winter months, information that would fill gaps in the knowledge of this declining bird.

During the last few weeks scientists from the BTO caught four male Cuckoos in the Tregaron area and fitted them with state of the art satellite tags, giving Wales their very own fantastic four. These birds will now be followed as they leave Wales and head for sub-Saharan Africa.

In England the Cuckoo has declined by 51%, whilst in Wales the decline has been much less severe at 27%. The four tagged Cuckoos will identify whether this is down to a different migration strategy employed by Welsh Cuckoos.

Lead scientist on the project at the BTO, Dr Chris Hewson, comments, “We need to know whether Cuckoos in Wales face different pressures to those in England. It might be that they migrate on a different route, or at a different time, or that they spend the winter months in a different area. It could be that their return to the UK in the spring is different in some way. Right now we just don’t know, but we do have the potential to find answers to these questions from these four birds.”

He added, “Over the last few days all four birds have left Wales and indeed Britain. Two are in France - Cuckoo 115597 (the tag number) is now in the Centre region and one named Indy is in Picardie region. The other two birds, called Iolo and David, are now in the Netherlands and Germany. It is great to be able to watch these birds as they reveal their journeys to Africa.”

The five birds in 2011 revealed two migration routes, one through Spain and one through Italy, identified stopover sites and unveiled their final winter destination to the scientists and members of the public who were following the amazing journeys as they unfolded on the BTO website.

Some of the cuckoos still need names. You can follow these birds on the BTO website as they undertake the hazardous journey to sub-Saharan Africa just visit www.bto.org and get more information about naming them.

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. The BTO Cuckoo tracking project is funded by Essex and Suffolk Water, BBC Wildlife Fund, BTO Cuckoo sponsors, BTO Cuckoo Champions, BTO supporters and Mark Constantine - the Sound Approach.
  3. Anyone can become a Cuckoo sponsor or Champion, please see the BTO website for more information, www.bto.org.

Contact Details

Paul Stancliffe
(BTO Press Officer)
Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Mobile: 07585 440910 (anytime)
Email: press [at] bto.org

Dr Chris Hewson
(BTO Research Ecologist)
Office: 01842 750050
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: chris.hewson [at] bto.org

Kelvin Jones
(BTO Cymru)
Office: 07979 713282
(9am to 5.30pm)
Email: kelvin.jones [at] bto.org

Images are available for use alongside this News Release
Please contact images [at] bto.org quoting reference 2012-19
 

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