Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Ceredigion Cuckoo update

Indy getting his biometrics checked

In May this year Kelvin Jones and I assisted BTO scientist Chris Hewson and Phil Atkinson in catching and satellite-tagging four male Cuckoos from on and around Tregaron Bog and a female Cuckoo from Brechfa Forest near Llanybydder. The BTO's Cuckoo tracking website gives updates on all 5 Welsh birds and the news isn't too good. The female, Idemili, was found injured in Sussex on the first stage of her journey and was subsequently cared for and flown to Italy to be released (without her satellite tag) by Wildlife Aid Foundation - hopefully she survived and completed the remaining leg of her journey. Two of the male cuckoos, Iolo and Indy (sponsored by The Independent) have succumbed on their travels having both made it to Africa, Iolo in Libya and Indy in Cameroon.  This leaves David and Lloyd, currently in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Central African Republic respectively, to face the perils of their northward journey this spring, hopefully to return safely and harass another generation of Meadow Pipits in the hills and valleys around Tregaron. We wish them all the best.

The rarely photographed act of comparing cuckoos!! Three Cuckoos in one net! Is this a first?

Mike McCarthy of the Independent has written an article on Indy's epic journey which is well worth a read

It is quite likely that the record-breaking wet summer here and the drought conditions in the Mediterranean conspired to make this autumns migration back to Africa even more hazardous than normal. This seasons 50% survival certainly compares badly with the 2011 migrations when all 5 satellite-tagged Cuckoos made it safely to Central Africa. Could refuelling prior to and during migration be the reason for the population declines observed in recent years? It is interesting that all of the Welsh and Scottish Cuckoos that migrated on an a Easterly route made it to Africa whilst three of the English Cuckoos that took the westerly route through Spain all died. Chris, the sole surviving English Cuckoo, also took the easterly route through Italy. Is this the reason for the differing fortunes of English and Scottish Cuckoos?

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