Tracking cuckoos at RAF Fylingdales

Tagging a cuckoo at RAF Fylingdales
Tagging a cuckoo at RAF Fylingdales

Cuckoos who have made their homes at RAF Fylingdales have been tagged for satellite tracking.

The British Trust for Ornithology has implemented a programme to tag birds around the area as a way of tracking and monitoring their migration and activity habits.

Using advanced technology, satellites will detect the trackers on the back of the cuckoos which will provide important information to the trust. Effectively, satellites will track the birds while RAF Fylingdales tracks the satellites.

During the last 25 years, breeding cuckoos have declined by almost 75 per cent, with the decline being greatest in the south and east of the UK.

While organisations like the British Trust for Ornithology have some data on cuckoos while they are here in the UK, once they leave for the winter months very little is known about them, hence the trust’s plan to fit them with tracking devices.

Chris Hewson, lead scientist on the cuckoo project at the British Trust for Ornithology, said: “If we are to produce a conservation strategy for a bird like the cuckoo that spends most of its time outside of the UK, we need to understand its full life cycle.

“Without this it would be like doing a jigsaw with some of the pieces missing.

“With the help of RAF Fylingdales, we hope to find some of those missing pieces.”

Mr Hewson went on to add that the radar base near Whitby had a big part to play in the successful implementation of the project.

“Right now we want to know whether the migration routes of birds in the north east differ from those in other parts of the UK,” he continued.

“RAF Fylingdales still has a healthy population of cuckoos and what they do once they leave for the winter could give us important information that will help inform cuckoo conservation across the UK.”