The BTO Cuckoo-tracking project is just fascinating. ‘Our’ cuckoos are now in central Africa.
Have you heard the one about the Scot, the Welshman and the Englishman?
Chance is a Scot, a Scottish cuckoo tagged at Loch Katrine. He is in Nigeria at the moment and he followed a very similar route through Europe on both journeys south – heading for the same part of the former East Germany (north of Juterbog) before turning south each year. If we had one trajectory for Chance then one might think that it was just chance (or just Chance) that made him head to Juterbog – but he took what appears to be precisely the same route this autumn too. There is no getting away from it – Juterbog is somehow pretty firmly lodged in Chance’s genes or memory, or both. He crossed the Sahara through western Libya and Niger.
David is Welsh, a Welsh Cuckoo tagged at Tregaron. He is in the Democratic (so-called) Republic of the Congo (DRC). He has taken quite different routes through Europe on each southward journey, but in both years has crossed the Sahara by a relatively eastern route, through eastern Libya and Sudan. One year he headed almost due east from Wales, towards Berlin before heading southeast through the Czech Republic, Hungary and Albania but in the other year he travelled south through France and Italy to reach Albania. The contrast between David’s two routes through Europe is stark and is so different from Chance’s love of, and apparent yearning for, Juterbog.
Chris is English, an English Cuckoo tagged at Santon Downham. He is in the Congo, near the border with the DRC, and his route there was very similar to his route south last year and the year before – but different from Chance’s and David’s. Chris travels down through France and Italy and then crosses the Sahara through central Libya and Chad. His three journeys are very similar to each other, and quite different from those of the other two Cuckoos.
Look at the maps of these and other Cuckoos and I challenge you not to be fascinated.
Of course, it is only from our perspective that these are our Cuckoos. Just these three have passed through or over 37 countries on their travels; France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, Montenegro, Greece and Spain in Europe; Morocco, Algeria, Libya, Sudan, Southern Sudan, Niger, Chad, Mali, Western Sahara, Mauretania, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Central African Republic and DRC in Africa.
Aren’t birds brilliant!
And the BTO aren’t bad either!