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Updates from our Cuckoos

Read the latest updates from our Cuckoos on their migration.

The end of the road for Valentine

19 Mar 2021

Sadly, it looks as if we have heard the last from Valentine. When his tag last transmitted, the battery in his tag was low on charge and had been for some time, but there's also an indication of a problem based on temperature. The temperature sensor in the tag reported about 8 degrees C lower than any of the previous readings in Angola, including those from similar times of day, and we don't think the move north by a few hundred km explains this. We suspect that Valentine perished between the last location in Angola (2nd Feb) and the ones in southwest DRC (16th Feb). Valentine was tagged in June 2019 so we have benefited from a lot of valuable data from Valentine, helping us extend our knowledge and understanding of this amazing species.  

No further news from Carlton II

19 Mar 2021
We've had no further messages from Carlton II's tag since 26 Feb when he was in the forest zone of north eastern Gabon. Although the tag's battery was very low at the time, based on the data collected by the onboard temperature sensor, there's no indication of a problem with the tag. Hopefully we will hear from Carlton II very soon.

PJ still in Ivory Coast

19 Mar 2021

PJ, who is on his fifth tracked annual migration to the UK from Africa, has spent the last couple of weeks in Ivory Coast. The rains are well established in the area that he's stopped off in - in fact, there's been a bit more than expected over the past month (up to 75mm). This should mean there's plenty of food for him. We don't know exactly what he'll be feeding on but expect that this will include some adult insects that have been aestivating over the dry season and have emerged in response to the start of the rains.

The area PJ is in was originally deciduous forest that has been transformed into secondary growth - this transformation might originally have been beneficial for Cuckoos, but depending on the extent of tree loss, it could reduce habitat quality for them. As it's now a few weeks since the rains commenced, it's likely that in addition to emergent insects, there could also be plenty of caterpillars (Cuckoos preferred prey on the breeding grounds) for him to eat by now. He's likely to use this fuel to put on fat amounting to at least 50% of his lean body mass, as well as enlarging his flight muscles, before migrating over the Sahara. He usually spends most of March in Ivory Coast before heading north across the Sahara.

PJ arrives in Ivory Coast

01 Mar 2021
PJ is sticking to his usual flight plan so far this year and after a brief stop in Ghana has flown a further 507 km (315 miles) west to Ivory Coast. He is now close to the river Nzi, approximately 100 km north east of the capital Yamoussoukro. He knows Ivory Coast well having stopped here in every year we have tracked him. In some years he has spent time in the far west of the country, close to the border with Liberia. We expect him to spend a few weeks here, during which time he will be feeding up in preparation for his Sahara crossing. 

Valentine on the move?

27 Feb 2021
A low quality location received from Valentine's tag suggests that he may be on the move from Angola towards Democratic Republic of Congo. Hopefully he will emerge from the forest canopy soon and his tag will receive enough sunlight to send us a more reliable location.

PJ visits Togo and Ghana

27 Feb 2021
Our longest-surviving tagged Cuckoo PJ is leading the pack back to the UK this year. Over the last few days he has covered 1,392 km (865 miles), flying west from Cameroon into west Africa. By 17:21 on Wednesday evening he had arrived in Togo, but he didn't stay long and by 22:17 that night he had continued over the border into Ghana. He is currently in eastern Ghana but based on his behaviour in previous years, we don't expect him to stay here for long. His destination is likely to be Ivory Coast, which is another 725 km (450 miles) further west and he usually arrives there by early March. He usually spends most of March in Ivory Coast before heading north across the Sahara.

Carlton II is on his way

26 Feb 2021

Carlton II has followed PJ's lead and has started his migration back to the UK. He has spent the winter in central Gabon and over the last few days he has flown 300 km (186 miles) north towards the border between Gabon and Cameroon, and is now in the Minkebe National Park in north east Gabon. Carlton II was tagged in the spring of 2018, and in 2019 he made his first move north on 15 March. Last year he started his journey on 7 March, so he is a couple of weeks ahead of schedule this year. His route back to the UK will take him out to Ivory Coast, Liberia or Sierra Leone in West Africa where he will feed up before embarking on his Sahara crossing.

Carlton II still in Gabon

15 Feb 2021
Carlton II arrived in Gabon at the end of November and remains there, in the dense rainforest of central Gabon. The most recent update from his tag arrived a few days ago so his tag appears to be working fine and hopefully we will see him move north over the coming few weeks. 

Valentine still in Angola

15 Feb 2021
We've seen little movement from Valentine over the last couple of months, since he arrived in Angola at the end of November. The latest updates received at the beginning of February show that he is still in rainforest in the Bengo province of northern Angola, approximately 136 km (85 miles) north east of the capital Luanda. Given that he is probably under the dense canopy of the rainforest, it isn't unusual for us to have fewer updates from his tag, which requires solar energy to charge up the battery. In previous years he has stayed in Angola until late February/early March. 

PJ in Cameroon

15 Feb 2021
Since our last update PJ has flown a further 890 km (552 Miles) north from his last location in Gabon to his current location in Cameroon. He is now in an area of Guinean Savanna, near the Meng river in the south of the Adamawa region of Cameroon. He was in this same area between 3rd and 25th February 2020. In 2020 his next movement took him to Togo on his way to Ivory Coast. Over the next couple of weeks we expect PJ to cover the 2,000km (1,240 miles) journey west to Ivory Coast where he usually stops off to build up his fat reserves ready for crossing the Sahara.


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