Tracking Welsh Cuckoos

Cuckoo is one of the UK’s fastest declining migrants and, until recently, was one of which we knew least about once it left the UK.  Many readers will already be familiar with the stories of five Norfolk cuckoos, successfully tagged last summer and tracked on their migration to West Africa and their return journey this spring.

Cuckoo populations however, declined in Wales by 27% between 1999-2009, compared to 49% in England and only 9% in Scotland.  Why is this?  Do their timings or patterns of movements differ significantly? Tagging birds from all three regions will help us to understand why they are faring differently.

This year, the BTO Tracking Team have been busy in Wales (and Scotland), and  have now tagged four Welsh males from the Tregaron area.

Details of these birds, and maps showing their movement are now available to enjoy. Two birds have already left Wales, moving east into England and look set to move into continental Europe soon.

Cuckoo by Whitstable Wildlife, on Flickr
Cuckoo by Whitstable Wildlife, on Flickr

Satellite Tracking for Welsh Ospreys

Osprey in Flight at Belle Haven by Mr. T in DC, on Flickr
Osprey in Flight at Belle Haven by Mr. T in DC, on Flickr

Each year, one or two Glamorgan birders are fortunate to see an Osprey flying overhead as it makes its way north or south on its annual migration. In recent years, birds have also spent a few days in late summer feeding up at estuaries in the west of the county.

Feeding exclusively on fish, Ospreys spend the winter in west Africa, avoiding the risk of frozen water bodies in the UK.   Young birds are thought to spend their first two years in Africa, before returning north to embark on their first breeding attempts.

We now have a second pair of Ospreys breeding in Wales.  This year a pair has settled on the Dyfi and are currently rearing three chicks.  This is in addition to the Glaslyn pair that have been returning each summer since 2004.

News has now been released that all three Dyfi chicks will be ringed and have small solar-powered satellite trackers attached later this month.  The trackers will allow researchers to follow the birds as they travel vast distances over many years, and develop a much better understanding of the species movements and ecology.

More information about the Dyfi Osprey Project is available form the Montgomeryshire Widlife Trust.