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Updates from our Cuckoos

Read the latest updates from our Cuckoos on their migration.

No further news from Boris

06 Apr 2018
Unfortunately, we have received no further locations for Boris. We are unable to draw any conclusions as to what might have happened. The new 2g tags have not worked well on the Cuckoos and his loss could well be down to tag failure but we don't really know. We are unlikely to hear from him again, even though we have occasionally lost Cuckoos for several months for them to pop-up again when they begin to move. Boris should now be in an area where the tag should be getting plenty of sunlight to charge the battery. If the tag was going to burst into life it really should have done by now.

Cuckoo class of 2017

15 Nov 2017

In 2017, we have been trialling the very latest satellite tracking technology - this year’s cohort were tagged with 2g tags from Microwave Telemetry.

We have, unfortunately, ‘lost’ contact with most of them already. It would seem that the smaller size of the new tag allows the solar panel, used to recharge the tiny battery, to become shaded by feathers, resulting in much less efficient charging of the battery, and consequently lower contact with the tag. Although some may have died, the lack of transmissions from the tags makes it impossible to assess this and in all cases, there were no indications that the birds were in trouble when we last heard from their tags.

This is exacerbated during the winter months by the birds spending more time under the canopy in the Congo rainforest. We don’t know how the batteries will fare when the birds begin their northward migration back to the UK. On leaving the rainforest the tags should receive more sunlight which might be enough to overcome feather shading, and if this happens some of the ‘lost birds’ could pop-up again in February or March, but it is possible that the prolonged shading will have caused irreversible damage to the much smaller batteries in the 2g model. We all have our fingers crossed.

As we move forward we are continuously looking for effective ways to continue gathering this important data for Cuckoos, and other species, to benefit our knowledge and ultimately wildlife conservation. We hope that next year we will be able to track a cohort of cuckoos without these issues arising. 

Boris remains in Senegal

11 Oct 2017
Boris's tag has recently transmitted from Senegal but we are concerned that he hasn't moved south since his arrival there around the 20 September. While most of the other Cuckoos are moving east, it's a lilttle strange that Boris choose to go west in the first place. It may also be that his tag is suffering from lack of charge as there was a big gap between the last location in Mauritania and the first in Senegal. 

Boris in Senegal

20 Sep 2017
A new signal from Boris's tag on 18 September places him in Senegal roughly 600km (350 miles) south west from his last location in Mauritania.  He is just south of the Senegal River and close to the town of Dagana. 

Boris in Mauritania

23 Aug 2017
A poor signal on 21 August placed Boris in southern Mauritania, roughly 1140km (700 miles) further south than his previous position in Algeria and not far from completing his Sahara crossing. We would have expected him to continue at least as far as Mali where conditions will likely be better for feeding up after his long journey but so far no further locations have been received to reveal that he has moved on and completed his desert crossing.  We are a little concerned about this but will have to wait for more information. 

Boris in Algeria

01 Aug 2017
Boris has travelled 1350km (840 miles) from his last location in Spain to reach a new location in western Algeria. Mr Conkers is just slightly further west in Morocco and from here they look set to make their desert crossings. 

Cutting edge technology 2g tags

13 Jul 2017
In spring we fitted our six new recruits to the UK Cuckoo Tracking Project with 2g satellite tags for the first time. Whilst these are similar in design to the 5g tags previously used, the lighter, smaller tags mean we are able to fit them to lighter and smaller birds, opening up opportunities for future tracking projects. The benefit of using a smaller tag does come with costs, however. The 2g tag has a lower power output than the larger tag and, because it is physically smaller we are finding that the solar panels are being covered to a greater extent by the bird’s feathers. This results in fewer and poorer quality locations, especially when the bird is under cover within its habitat. As a consequence the journeys of these new birds might not always be quite as easy to follow and some erroneous positions may be plotted on the maps. We still expect to get enough to enable us to see their migrations unfold and add to the wealth of information that we already have so stay tuned! 

Boris moves south to Spain

13 Jul 2017
Boris had left the wooded area in southwest France by the 10 July and headed further south to a location in central Spain, north of Cuenca.  

170429 has a name

07 Jul 2017
It seems that giving 170429 a name prompted a reaction as during the morning of 6 July, Boris, as he is now known, transmitted for the first time outside of the UK. Boris is currently in southwest France, in an area of woodland just south of Bordeaux. Go Boris.

170429 name to be decided shortly

22 Jun 2017
This Cuckoo is being named shortly by pupils at Thetford Grammar School, who've been helping the BTO with our invertebrate research by taking part in What's Under Your Feet?, our collaborative study with EDF Energy. They invited us to their 'dig' and are kindly helping us to promote the project to other schools by allowing us to video and photograph their efforts and promote the work through social media.   

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