Samson

Samson's journey from 29 May 2017 to 17 August 2017

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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. 

Samson in Nigeria - 09 Aug 2017
Samson has travelled eastwards from Mali during the last week, covering around 1165km (725 miles) across Burkina Faso and northern Benin, to reach Nigeria. He is just west of the Kwiambana Game Reserve and north of the Kamuku National Park. 
170432 to be known as Samson - 26 Jul 2017
Cuckoo 170432 is in Africa and is now to be known as Samson.  He has been named by TV wildlife presenter Martin Hughes-Games after his son. Samson was in Spain but a recent signal on the afternoon of 21 July shows he had completed his desert crossing and was in Mali. From here he then moved on 420km (by 260miles) to Burkina Faso, where Victor is also located. He is currently between the Red and the White Volta Rivers and just north of the town of Bane.
170432 in Spain not Sicily - 13 Jul 2017
We thought 170432 was close to Sicily but having transmitted over the sea and not having moved onwards to land this raised a few questions! We took another look at the signals, all of which were of low quality, and found a much more likely scenario from another transmission - he was on land and actually in Spain. Some of you may have noticed the position has since been updated. 
The new tags are working in a different way to those used previously so we are still getting used to this. 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, so more interpretation is needed.  This is new cutting edge technology and this is the first time we've trialled them. The successful development and deployment of these tags opens up exciting opportunities for future tracking projects, and would allow us to fit them to lighter and smaller birds.  Please bear with us while we get used to the new types of information we are receiving. 
170432 ahead of the rest - 22 Jun 2017
Another of our new birds is on their journey to Africa. From Chicester Harbour, Sussex, Cuckoo 170432 had reached a location west of Poitiers, France by 17 June and a signal received on the 20 June showed that he hadn't hung around! He was just 80km (50 miles) west of the coast of Sicily!  This makes him the most southerly of the Cuckoos currently. We will have to wait for further signals to see where he made land!