With no further news from Chris the Cuckoo, whose last transmission was from the middle of the desert, we have to conclude that he has sadly died. Chris was satellite-tagged in spring 2011 and we have been following his journey for the last four years as he traveled to and from Africa. See our celebration of Chris' journey and just how much he has contributed to our understanding of Cuckoo migration.
Updates from our Cuckoos
Celebrating the life of Chris
Chris's journey ends in the desert?
We are still receiving poor quality signals from Chris that show he is still just north of the Tibesti Mountains in northern Chad. He has been here for almost four weeks and although we have no direct evidence that he has died, it seems unlikely that he would stay there for that length of time even though the area has recently received some rainfall. It may be that after over four years of following Chris's journey it may have come to an end.
Concern for Chris
We haven't received any good quality locations for Chris since 3 August, although poor quality signals do indicate that he left Italy shortly after this and was crossing the Mediterranean Sea on the 5 August.
The Po Valley in Italy is Chris's usual stopover site, however, the region is experiencing its worst drought in years, and given the short length of time our Cuckoos have spent here this year, has presumably led to a shortage of caterpillars.
A series of poor signals from Chris’s tag show that he has made it to the Tibesti mountains in Northern Chad by 8 August, but no good signals have been received to confirm this and elevate his location so that it is visible on the public maps. He seems to have been here for around eight days which is very worrying as he normally crosses the desert in a day or two, stopping on the shores of Lake Chad in the south of the country and on the southern edge of the desert.
At this stage we are very concerned about him and, given the conditions in Italy, we fear that he may not have been able to take on the amount of food needed to prepare for, and successfully complete, the journey. Both Peckham and Larry also stopped in the mountain area and continued on to complete their crossing of the desert, though neither spent as long as Chris has in the area.
Chris in Italy
Chris has continued south and is now in northern Italy, just east of Ferrara. Poor quality signals indicate that he journeyed to Slovenia from Germany, and then on to Italy.
Chris on the move again
Chris's stay in the Netherlands was quite short this year. A signal during the early evening on 7 July showed that he was in Bavaria, just outside of the town of Langenthonhausen. This is the furthest east he has ventured since being fitted with his satellite tag.
Chris in the Netherlands
On the 4 July good signals were received from Chris' tag which revealed he was in the Netherlands,close to Rotterdam. Low quality signals received a few days before this show he may well have arrived in mainland Europe earlier than this, before moving north-east to his current location. This location is further north than the locations in Belgium we have seen him use in previous years.
Chris in no hurry to leave
Chris is still in the area of Cavenham Heath that he arrived in on 29 April. Last year he left the UK on 7 July.
Chris returns to breeding grounds again
Chris has returned to the area around the Norfolk/Suffolk border where he was first tagged in spring 2011 and has spent each subsequent summer.
Since leaving our shores in 2011, Chris has flown over, or visited, twenty-eight different countries, crossed the Sahara Desert eight times and reached speeds of up to 60mph.
Dr Chris Hewson, lead scientist on the project at the BTO, said, “Chris was one-year old when we fitted the satellite-tag, which makes him five-years old now, and quite an age for a Cuckoo; the oldest we have on record is almost seven. The tag was also given a life of two-to-three years, so that is getting quite old too. We had everything crossed for Chris to make it back again this year and give us another complete migration route, and he hasn’t let us down.”
Chris returns for fourth time
Chris is back in the UK once again! From western Spain he has covered 1080km (670 miles), travelling over France and the English Channel to reach a location in the Isle of Wight by the 26 April. He still has a little way further to go yet to reach his breeding grounds which are to the north-east, in Norfolk. This is the fourth return trip of his that we have been able to follow since he was tagged in 2011.
Chris in Spain
Chris continued on his desert crossing from Mali, travelling a further 2500km (1550 miles) to reach northern Spain. He is now west of Zamora, a city in Castile and León region and is furher north than Derek, Dudley, David or Stanley.
Migration blog (22nd – 28th October)
Many bird watchers have been lamenting on what a poor autumn it has been so far for migration, with numbers of common, scarce, and expected rare species down on what would normally be expected.
Working together for seabirds
BTO work supports effective monitoring of our seabirds and aims to provide opportunities for a new generation of seabird surveyors.