We all delight in hearing the call of cuckoos, returning to breed In the Spring, but the UK has lost about two thirds of its cuckoos in the last 25 years. In 2011The British Trust for Ornithology planned a project which might give some insight as to why their numbers are declining.
BBC Nature reports:
“Migratory birds don’t just have a breeding area and a wintering area, they also have staging posts where they spend different amounts of time,” said Dr Chris Hewson, the scientist leading the project. ”Because Britain and Europe as a whole is getting warmer, they need to get back earlier and earlier to their breeding grounds.
“If we don’t know exactly where they are, we won’t know where the bottlenecks are that might be preventing the cuckoos from getting back to Britain. ”So we’re particularly interested in where the birds are fattening up before the final journey toBritain.”
Cuckoos are one of several migrant species declining in Britain. According to a 2010 survey by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), of the 10 UK birds which have declined the most since 1995, eight are summer migrants, including the cuckoo, turtle dove, yellow wagtail and nightingale. Between 1995 and 2010 the UK lost more than 70% of its turtle doves and nearly half of its cuckoos. The RSPB called the declines “unsustainable”.
Martin Davies from the society, says,: “We are in danger of losing these sentinels of summer, as the birds’ populations have slumped since the mid 1990s. ”The world is changing rapidly and pressures such as habitat destruction, illegal hunting and climate change are believed to be having a major impact on populations of these birds.
“It will be a race against time to tackle these declines.”
The BTO Project - Tracking Cuckoos to Africa… and back again
The ‘Red Listed’ Cuckoo is one of the UK’s fastest declining migrants and, until recently, was one of which we knew least about once it left theUK.
In 2011 we attached satellite-tracking devices to Cuckoos from Norfolk to find out more about their important stop-over sites and wintering destinations on the way to and from Africa.
Now in 2012 we have expanded this to include tagged birds from Wales and Scotland.
Here is the latest news of three of the cuckoos currently being tracked – Chance, Chris and David
Latest news, 28th August 2012
Chance has been named by a BTO Member after Edgar Chance, a British ornithologist noted for his pioneering studies on the breeding behaviour of the Common Cuckoo. In his second year, he was tagged inStirling,Scotland in May 2012
Chance flew the channel to land in Flanders, Belgiumin mid-June 2012, and he had made it to Africaby 10th August.
Chance is southeast ofLake Chad
It is believed that the transmission depicted to the east is incorrect and that Chance remained in the area east ofLake Chad. Further transmissions on 22, 23, 25 and 27 August show him 155km (95 miles) southeast of theLake, and his previous position.
Chris is named after Chris Packham. The BBC Wildlife Fund have supported this project. In his second year when caught, he was tagged in Norfolk in June 2011
He left England on 11th June 2012, and travelled through Europe and crossed the Sahara in mid-July, reaching Chad by the end of July.
Chris remains inChad
Chris continued westwards around 90km (50 miles) from his position on 21 August. He moved to the Guera region of Chad and recent locations received this morning indicating he is still there.
David has been named after David Milne QC, a member of BTO Council, marking his support of our scientific study of cuckoo migration. An adult when caught, he was tagged inWales at the end of May 2012.
David left the UK at the end of May and travelled south through Germany, reaching Africa on 15th August.
David is in Chad - 28 Aug 201,
Transmissions show that David has travelled only a small distance withinChadfrom his previous location on 20 August. He is, however, no longer the most southerly Cuckoo.
The above information was gathered from BTO, BBC and RSPB
Finally, we would like to wish Susan’s mum STELLA, a very, very Happy Birthday today. She is celebrating a very special birthday, this being her 80th and we hope she has a wonderful day. Love and very best wishes to you Stella from everyone at The Wildlife Village. Click the link below to see a message for you.
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