The Independant - Summer's over for Clement the cuckoo as he is tracked in Africa


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The Independant - Summer's over for Clement the cuckoo as he is tracked in Africa

  • Since the early 1980s, the numbers of Cuckoos has been in decline and this may be because the populations of some key host species, such as Dunnock and Meadow Pipit, have also declined. Consequently, the Cuckoo is now red list species.

    Clement is the first of five cuckoos being tracked on their return migration by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), and featured in The Independent last week, to leave Europe behind.

    Two days ago he crossed over the Mediterranean from south-eastern Spain to Algeria, and is now resting on the northern slopes of the Atlas mountains before the toughest part of his journey – crossing the Sahara desert.

    With his fellow cuckoos Martin, Lyster, Kasper and Chris, all caught in East Anglia in May and fitted with ultra-light satellite tracking devices, Clement is part of a fascinating experiment which hopes to solve the last of the cuckoo's mysteries – where exactly the birds go in winter. Their progress can be followed in detail on their blogs on the BTO website, which are constantly updated.

    The work is considered vital, because the cuckoo, whose call is one of the best-loved signals of springtime, is rapidly declining in Britain, having tumbled in numbers by 65 per cent between 1984 and 2009.

    The birds may be disappearing because of a decline in their insect food in Britain, but it is also possible that they are running into difficulties on their African wintering grounds, or on the various intermediate "staging posts" they use to refuel on their 3,000-mile journeys. Habitat destruction could be to blame.


    The satellite photo shows that his current location, a scrub-covered northern slope of the Atlas mountains in the Sidi-bel-Abbes region, is the very last vegetated area before the vast sandy and rocky expanses of the Sahara, the immense barrier which he will probably cross at night to escape the searing heat and lack of food.

  • Tom

    Yes this is fascinating. I've been following the cuckoos' progress on the BTO's tracking site, since the project was mentioned on Springwatch.

    Two of them are now crossing the Sahara.  

  • Fascinating research, hopefully it will help provide clues to protecting cuckoos!

  • Very fascinating. I see that the trackers get ever smaller.

  • Latest news. See   BBC

  • This is being featured on Breakfast on BBC 1 this morning.  There was a report around 7.55am.

  • Wonderful! Signs of spring Doggie. Regardless of the snow and ice, my spirits can't be dampened at this time of year. Yay!

  • A good read, doggie. The section in The Independent on helping frozen pond creatures was interesting too.

  • If Kasper reads the long range weather forecast he will be staying for a while in warmer climes before that last push.Great to see the technology is working and helping the BTO gain important data.

  • Great, so enjoyed reading these. Thanks for the links Alan :-) Over the back of my garden there is an area called 'Cuckoo Bank' for obvious reasons. My eldest Grand Daughter has always, since being a babe in arms, loved our Cuckoo clock. Last year My sister and I took her a walk round here and she heard a real Cuckoo for the very first time in her life (aged 5). She was so excited, she still mentions it now. :-) Same day, we saw several lilies on a pond in flower, she was in awe ! :-) T'was a wonderful day !! :-)

  • Thanks for the link, Alan.  It's fantastic what tachnology can do to improve our understanding of animal behaviour and habits.  I'm going to be looking out for a Cuckoo this year as I've never seen one before, and seeing one would be great.

  • Alan , that's special :-)

    When I was a girl, I would hear them over 'the Ash Mounts' an old mine area, closed about 1903, grown over, becoming a beautiful wildlife area, Cuckoos were common place as were so many other birds, we knew the difference between a Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush from a 'knee high to a grasshopper' age and there were fantastic butterflies,hosts of insects and a wide range of wild flowers, frogs, newts etc, it was a heaven  :-) When I was older in the early 70's, the whole area was cleared and became a Toxic waste dumping ground. We were about the last generation of children to see and experience all that beauty.

    The whole of the area here was mines, all gone now, they try and hang on to the history, preserving parts, some given to wildlife but barely any and certainly not enough. My husbands dad was a miner for 51 years (sorry gone off the subject!!) The Cuckoo is the reminder of my childhood, I grin like a Cheshire cat and practically skip when I hear one   :-)

  • Alan, If the Cuckoos are in your area which was a mine and Cuckoo Bank by here is at the back of an area where the mines railway ran and they were at the old mine when I was a girl, perhaps Cuckoos harbour an interest in old mines !!! :-) They certainly seem to be attracted to the areas for some reason!!  Lol :-) Lovely to know they're on their way back here. :-)

  • Alan - no, I didn't see the one at RVCP, I was too busy searching for the one at Bolton Ings!  I'm going to have to check those sighting more often.

  • The first of the tracked cuckoos - Martin - has reached southern Spain

    BTO Tracking cuckoos to Africa...and back again