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Updates from our Cuckoos

Read the latest updates from our Cuckoos on their migration.

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. 

Where are Nicholas and Kidman?

06 Sep 2017
Nicholas and Kidmans' tags both last sent transmissions from Italy in July. However nothing has been received since. It seems that the tags aren't charging so we do not know if they remain in Italy or have moved on. Peckham is still as far north as Belgium so it could be that Nicholas and Kidman have also yet to move further south.  At this stage we have nothing to suggest that anything has happened to these Cuckoos and we hope to hear from them again.

No further news

24 Aug 2017
No recent news from Kidman or Nicholas, whose tags last transmitted in Italy, or Carlton, last known to have been in the UK.

Nothing further from Nicholas or Kidman

10 Aug 2017
No further signals have been sent in the last month to reveal that Nicholas or Kidman have moved on so we assume they are still both in Italy.

Cuckoo 170435 is named

26 Jul 2017
Cuckoo 170435 has been named Nicholas by Nicholas Watts of Vine House Farm, a long term supporter of the BTO, a farmer and conservationist in the Lincolnshire Fens growing and selling wild bird food. 

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! 

170435 settled close to Venice

07 Jul 2017
Locations received from 170435's tag show that he is settled close to the Piave River between Fossalta di Piave and San Dona di Piave. Looking on Google Earth the banks of the river have small areas of riverine woodland. This could prove to be 170435's staging area in preparation for his desert crossing.

170435 continues to Italy

28 Jun 2017
By the early hours of 23 June, Cuckoo 170435's tag was sending signals from southwest Germany, roughly 20km (12 miles) south-west of the city of Mannheim, which sits on the Rhine and Neckar rivers. He was 775 km (480 miles) from his breeding grounds in Nottingham. Signals received yesterday reveal that he has continued southwards and by early evening was in Italy, north of the Venetian Lagoon and not far from the City of Venice.  

170433 and 170435 tagged in Sherwood

22 Jun 2017
170433 and 170435 are our two newly tagged Cuckoos from Sherwood Forest. They join Selborne, who was tagged in the New Forest area in 2016. 

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