Flappy McFlapperson (2016) Mèng zhī juān (2016)
玉琳 YuLin (2017) 小松 XiaoSong (2017) 六月 LiuYue (2017)
*Note that, until the 2017 autumn migration begins, the viewer must zoom into the Beijing area to see detail on the positions of the Class of 2017
29 June 2017
After the elation of Meng’s homecoming, and seeing him in such good health, it is heartbreaking to announce that we believe he has perished. All looked so good in late May and early June as Meng was spotted, photographed and even filmed by Chinese State Television (CCTV) on his breeding grounds at Yeyahu Wetland Reserve. He looked in good health and was vigorously calling, chasing females and seeing off male rivals. However, after 2 June, we received only intermittent and poor quality signals from his tag, and nothing at all after 9 June. This prompted us to examine the signals closely to see whether there were any clues in the temperature data sent by the tag.
At the time, the BTO’s Chris Hewson said: “It looks as if the temperature of the tag started to fluctuate diurnally on 3 June. My guess is that he died on Friday 2 June. But the tag has clearly been charging since then, so it might simply be that his behaviour has changed in a way we don’t understand.”
We waited, hoping that we’d receive some signals to indicate he was ok and that it was simply a change in behaviour that meant the tag wasn’t charging and sending signals. However, the lack of any signals since 9 June strongly suggests he died on 2 June, as Chris suspected. Given how healthy he looked, one must consider that predation is the most likely cause of death, probably by a bird of prey such as a Hobby, Peregrine or Saker. Sadly, the most recent locations don’t offer an accurate position, meaning that we have almost no chance of recovering the body or the tag.
It is no exaggeration to say that Meng will be hugely missed by the Beijing Cuckoo Project Team and all that followed his incredible journey from Beijing to Mozambique and back.. That journey saw Meng cross 16 borders involving 10 countries (China – Vietnam – Laos – Myanmar – Bangladesh – India – Somalia – Kenya – Tanzania Mozambique – Tanzania – Kenya – Somalia – India – Bangladesh – Myanmar – China). All without a passport or visa. And along the journey he passed through 13 Chinese Provinces and crossed the Arabian Sea twice. In total, we calculate he flew a minimum of 26,990 kilometers in 12 months. That’s equivalent to more than half way around the world.
More than that, Meng was the first Beijing Cuckoo to complete a round-trip from the tagging location in Beijing to the wintering grounds in Mozambique and back. He has contributed an enormous amount to our understanding of the migration routes, stopover sites and wintering grounds of cuckoos from East Asia and, at the same time, enthused a generation of young Chinese and many more thousands of followers from around the world.
Whilst me mourn Meng’s passing, we should take comfort that there are almost certainly some of Meng’s offspring in Beijing right now, competing to breed and follow in Meng’s flaps to Mozambique this winter. The life of the Beijing Cuckoo is fleeting. It’s a life of travel, endurance, intensity and wonder.
Thank you, 梦之鹃. RIP.
23 May 2017
Meng has been photographed at Yeyahu! Local photographer Gao Jingxin captured these images on 20 May, the day he arrived. And he looks in super condition. We could not have wished for a more perfect homecoming…
20 May 2017
Meng is back! A transmission from his tag this morning puts him right in the middle of Yeyahu Wetland Reserve in northwest Beijing, astonishingly just a few hundred metres from where he was fitted with his tag almost exactly one year ago. What in incredible journey that has taken him to Mozambique and back. Welcome home, Meng!
18 May 2017
After a few days or radio silence, we’ve just received a new signal showing that Meng is now in Hebei Province, a little south of Beijing, having flown from more than 2,000km from his previous position in Yunnan Province. He’s now less around 300km from his original tagging location at Yeyahu Wetland Reserve. He’s almost home!
9 May 2017
Meng seems to be taking a well-earned breather in Yunnan Province, SW China. Not a bad place to chill for a few days.
7 May 2017
No rest for Meng. He’s continued another 2,400km and is now in China! The latest signal, from 1330 UK time today, puts him in Yunnan Province, southwest China, and means he’s travelled around 6,500km in 6 days.
5 May 2017
Just WOW! On 1 May at 0707 in the morning, Meng was in Somalia as below. The next signal we received from his transmitter was this morning – 0948 on 5 May showing him in Madhya Pradesh, India. In 4 days he has travelled 4,500km including a non-stop sea crossing over the Arabian Sea and, with only one fix, we don’t know whether he’s stopped or is continuing further… What a bird!
1 May 2017
Meng is in Somalia! He’s following a remarkably similar trajectory to Flappy and fewer than 100km separates the two remaining Beijing Cuckoos.
19 April 2017
Meng is continuing northeast. He’s flown a further 1,700km north-northeast and is now in southeastern Kenya.
It looks as if he’s in a great area, in the Tana river valley. How long will he rest here before heading on..? We’re expecting him back in Beijing in late May, so he has around 10,000km still to go!
11 April 2017
A big moment! Meng has started his return journey… He’s flown around 800km north-northeast and is now 250km east-northeast of Flappy. All being well, we expect him back in Beijing in late May.. so he’s a very long way to go!
5 March 2017
Meng has moved another 75km south into the Province of Inhambane, still in Mozmbique.
27 February 2017
Meng is still inching south.. as the UK-tagged cuckoos are heading north… Meng is now around 500km south of Flappy, still in Mozambique.
9 February 2017
Meng is still heading south within Mozambique… every kilometre he flies is one he will need to fly back on his way to Beijing!
7 February 2017
Meng has moved another 180km south-southwest! How far will he go?
4 February 2017
Meng is still heading south and, in the first few days of February, has made a major move of more than 800km, crossing the border into Mozambique. He is now the most southerly of the Beijing Cuckoos!
31 January 2017
Meng has edged another 75km south in Tanzania and is now close to the border with Mozambique.
17 January 2017
Meng has moved another 250km south-southwest within Tanzania. No sign of his return just yet!
24 December 2016
Meng has moved another 180km south and is in the Tanzanian state of Lindi.
23 December 2016
Meng has headed further south, crossing Kenya and now joins Flappy in Tanzania.
15 December 2016
Meng has flown a further 300km southwest and, although still in Somalia, is now only around 350km east of Flappy! It’s remarkable that, after their journeys of more than 12,000km taking different routes from the Indian subcontinent to Africa, they are now so close to one another.
8 December 2016
Meng has flown another 300km southwest and is now around 100km west of Mogadishu, still in Somalia. Only 650km separates Meng from Flappy, who remains in Kenya.
6 December 2016
1100: He’s made it!! We’ve picked up some new positions this morning that show Meng probably made landfall around midnight last night (China time). Incredibly, he’s then flown another 750km southwest along the coast… meaning he has flown 3,400km non-stop from the west coast of India to Somalia.
0800 update: no further signals from Meng. The latest position, from late last night, shows him around 30km from the coast. Hopefully we will pick up a new signal today confirming he has made landfall. It’s not uncommon to go hours, or sometimes days, without receiving a signal; there are lots of variables including satellite passes, tag transmissions (they don’t transmit all the time) and of course, if the bird is in deep cover, the signal may not be picked up. So nothing to worry about just now..
5 December 2016
2345 update: Less than 50km to go! He’s almost there and seems to be on track..
2215 update: Less than 100km to go! Meng seems to be holding course. So close!
2130 update: Meng is almost there…! He’s flown more than 2,500km non-stop but in the latter stages of his crossing he is clearly being buffeted by the north-northeasterly winds, influencing his trajectory… If he heads due west he’s only 130km from the coast but on his current trajectory he’ll need to fly around 250km to reach land. Keep going!
After a strong tailwind during the early part of his crossing, Meng is facing strong cross-winds during the latter stages of his sea crossing. He must be feeling it..
1420 update: Meng seems to be buffeted a little by the crosswinds and his trajectory has moved slightly to the south.. he’s now around 100km southeast of Socotra and, if he continues his current heading, around 400km from the coast of Somalia… He won’t want to be pushed much further by the wind – the further south he heads, the further it is to the coast!
1245 update: Meng has flown non-stop for more than 1,750km and, on his current heading, has only 450km to go to reach the island of Socotra, or almost 800km to reach the Somali coast.. He’ll have some crosswinds to contend with but it looks as if managed to skirt around the rain mid-ocean (see weather animation below). Keep going, Meng!
0130 update: Meng is almost half way across the Arabian Sea. With favourable winds, he’s travelling fast. Keep going!
4 December 2016
After almost a month in northern Kerala, Meng is on his way! As of 1430 today China time, he is more than 600km off the coast of western India and, on his current trajectory, has more than 2,000km to go to reach Somalia… The winds look favourable but there is some rain out there… He’ll want to avoid that if at all possible.. An exciting moment.. we have everything crossed he will make it.
11 November 2016
After a few days presumably feeding up in Karnakata, we’ve just picked up a new signal from Meng’s tag that puts him 400km further south in the north of Kerala State. He’s now around 20km from the Indian coast! When will he begin his sea crossing?
5 November 2016
Meng is clearly preparing for his sea crossing.. he’s now on a course that will take him to Goa, on the coast. Looks as if he will take a southerly crossing, close to Skybomb’s track rather than the more northerly route taken by Flappy. Remember that Meng is of the bakeri subspecies (the same as Skybomb).
3 November 2016
After almost a month in Bangladesh, Meng has started to move… he’s flown 800km west and is now in Chhattisgarh! Will he follow Skybomb and Flappy to Africa? We think so…
5 October 2016
Meng is pushing on and has flown another 800km west-northwest to the south coast of Bangladesh, remarkably close to Skybomb‘s position in mid-September. He’s now flown more than 3,500km in the last 5 days!
3 October 2016 – second update
It’s all happening… just a few minutes after reporting Meng’s position in Guangxi Province, we received some accurate locations showing he is now in Myanmar! So, after weeks of inactivity, he has now moved more than 2,800km from southern Hebei Province in northern China to the Myanmar/Thailand border, very likely crossing through Vietnam and Laos in the process!
3 October 2016 – first update
After quite a lull – southern Hebei has obviously been attractive – we received signals from Mèng zhī juān on Saturday suggesting that he is now in Guangxi Province, southern China! That’s a move of over 1,400km south from his previous position. The quality of the location is not great but we have received multiple signals suggesting that the position is most likely accurate. As temperatures have begun to fall in Beijing and surrounding Hebei Province, we were expecting Meng to kick on. This most recent move is consistent with that of Flappy and Skybomb, the leading Beijing Cuckoos, and we expect Meng to head west through Yunnan, Myanmar and into India in the next few days. Or will he surprise us?
6 September 2016
梦之鹃 (Mèng zhī juān) has started his migration! As of 6 September, he has flown around 350km south southwest and is now in southern Hebei Province, a little southwest of the town of Hengshui. It will be fascinating to see whether the females (including Flappy), most likely of the canorus subspecies, will spend the winter in the same place as the males, most likely of the bakeri subspecies. Watch this space!
1 August 2016
梦之鹃 (Mèng zhī juān) remains in the Yeyahu area. He is most likely fattening up ahead of his southward migration, which we expect to begin very soon!
梦之鹃, pronounced Mèng zhī juān was the second male Cuckoo tagged at Yeyahu National Wetland Reserve in Yanqing County, northwest Beijing. He was named by children at Yanqing 2nd Middle School and the name, roughly translated, means “Dream Bird”. Just like Zigui, he has spent the summer at Yeyahu National Wetland Reserve.
As with Zigui, we expect Mèng zhī juān to begin his southward migration very soon but, as of 20 July, he remains at Yeyahu.