Friday, 10 February 2012

Do five cuckoos make a spring?

Cuculus canorus vogelartinfo chris romeiks CHR0791
From Chris Romeiks/ via Wikipedia
"For one swallow does not make the summer" [Aristotle], but could five swallows know that spring is in the air?  It seems unlikely in this snowbound part of the world but possibly they have sensed a change.
The excitement over hearing the first cuckoo in the spring really might have given me a clue, but I really hadn't taken in the fact that cuckoos migrate to warm places during the winter, never mind where those places could be.  In fact they migrate to Africa although very little was known about where.  One bird was found in Cameroon in 1930, and that is just about all.
Until recently.  Last year the British Trust for Ornithology decided to find out more about cuckoos' migration by catching and tagging.  The birds proved hard to catch but in the end five from various parts of East Anglia were fitted with solar powered tags which transmit for 10 hours then recharge for 48.

The first surprise was that the birds started leaving the UK in June and all five had left by the end of July.  Two then flew south via Spain and the others via Italy.  At times their routes were 3,600 km  apart and yet they all ended up together in the Congo by the end of November.

But here is the good news and another surprise - three of them have started moving north!  Has spring already started?

Read all about it.
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  1. Bird movements do tell us something, but I doubt they will reach this far north.

  2. How far north are you? They originated in East Anglia so I'm confident they'll return, eventually. Otherwise, where would our summer be?

  3. For one moment I thought you'd heard cuckoos already. If so, they'd not be feeling very well in this weather - no wonder they're supposed to be dying out. But then I read your post properly...

    1. I believe the research is because they are trying to find out why they are dying out, though apparently that's only in England. There is much less of a problem in Scotland and Wales.

  4. I meant at this moment they will not get too far north, sorry. I have never heard one myself, although I have worked with plenty.


Forethoughts, afterthoughts, any thoughts. Tell me.


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