Updates from our Cuckoos
Attenborough pushes on into Spain
Attenborough wings his way through France
JAC moves south
Calypso blazes south
JAC makes it to France
Calypso crosses the Channel
AJ was caught at the edge of RSPB Budby Common on the evening of 27th May. The team’s spirits were dampened a little when there was no response to the Cuckoo sound tape initially but after a while, a male and a female Cuckoo were heard approaching the nets. Soon after they checked the nets and found both birds in them! As night was approaching, they worked quickly to tag the male bird before darkness fell. As the team sat in the car under the forest canopy working under artificial light, a Tawny Owl called nearby, causing the Cuckoo to flinch markedly – a good reminder of the dangers these birds face throughout their lives. Since being tagged AJ has made the journey south across the Channel into northern France where he is approximately 80 km (50 miles) west of Paris.
Grove was tagged in early June when we were getting to the end of the Cuckoo catching season. An early start was called for so we were on site at Wheatfen Nature Reserve in the Norfolk Broads by 3:30am. Nets were put up with the chorus of a reeling Grasshopper Warbler and a booming Bittern in the background, and we put the stuffed cuckoo out and played the sound lure. Two Cuckoos were immediately interested and started Cuckooing but did not come any closer for about 20 minutes. We were not entirely sure we were going to catch and another 20 minutes passed. Then the bird launched off its perch and flew towards the net, and we didn't see it come out the other side - these moments of "Is it in the net?" or "Is it just sat on a bush next to the net?" are agonising. The cuckooing sound had stopped which was a good sign. We looked at each other and edged gingerly towards the nets. As we got closer, we saw it in the net - time to run!
Tagging the bird was very straightforward although this was the first time we have tagged a bird in a public toilet. The toilet was ideal - spacious and airy, and with all the facilities you could need. After tagging, we emerged into the car park where the bird flew off strongly. We were done by 05:45 and it was a real privilege as always to be up and about before anyone else in such an amazing place. A big thank you to Will Fitch, the warden of Wheatfen Nature Reserve, for allowing us to catch and tag a bird there.
Harry was caught during the same session as Clive. Having seen a bird fly into the net, BTO tagger Lee Barber started running towards the net but the bird escaped, so he walked back to the car. Then the bird went in again, so Lee started running, got half way there but it got out again! The team decided to close their nets and as they were walking towards them a Cuckoo came flying straight in. The highs and lows of catching Cuckoos! Since being tagged Harry has remained at his breeding grounds in Worcestershire.
Working together for seabirds
BTO work supports effective monitoring of our seabirds and aims to provide opportunities for a new generation of seabird surveyors.