Boris's Blog Archive

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.