The Beijing Cuckoo Project 2017

It’s almost a year since satellite tags were fitted to five Beijing Cuckoos.  Imaginatively named by local schoolchildren, these pioneers charmed, enthralled and astonished us with their incredible journeys through China, Myanmar, Bangladesh and India.  Then, after SKYBOMB BOLT’s non-stop 3,700km flight across the Arabian Sea from India to Somalia, followed by thousands in near real-time on social media, we were able to say with certainty that cuckoos from east Asia migrate to Africa for the northern winter, a journey of more than 12,000km from Beijing.  And, with media coverage across China and in more than ten countries across the world, including the front page of the New York Times, these birds captured the imagination on a scale that was beyond our wildest dreams.

Pupils at Dulwich International School vote for their favourite cuckoo names, June 2016.

As Flappy McFlapperson and 梦之鹃 (Mèng zhī juān), currently in Somalia, head ‘home’, the Beijing Cuckoo Project team is excited to announce plans for 2017.

The tracks and positions of the Beijing Cuckoos as at 3 May 2017. Flappy McFlapperson is shown by the red (and pink for the return journey) tracks, Meng Zhi Juan by the dark (and light blue for the return journey) tracks. As of 3 May they are less than 100km apart in Somalia on their return journey to China.

Subject to securing the necessary financial support, we’re planning to tag 3 more bakeri Common Cuckoos in Beijing, using some new ultra-lightweight tags, in late May and then travel to Heilongjiang in north China to fit tags to a further 7 birds of the larger canorus race.  As with the current project, the birds will be named by local schoolchildren who will follow their progress, learning about migratory birds and the challenges they face.  We’re proud to be working with the International School of Beijing, Hepingli No.4 Primary School and local schools in Heilongjiang.

The team will be attempting to tag cuckoos from 23 May into early June.  You can follow our progress, and the return journeys of Flappy and Meng, by visiting the dedicated Beijing Cuckoo Project page and by following @BirdingBeijing on Twitter.

The Beijing Cuckoo Project is a partnership between the Beijing Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre (BWRRC), the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) and Liaoning University, facilitated by Birding Beijing.  It involves members of the public and schools in genuine scientific discovery to help raise awareness in China of migratory birds and the environment.  We consider every donor as part of the Project team.  Please join us by donating to the JustGiving site.  Thank you!

 

Title image: SKYBOMB BOLT, the Beijing Cuckoo tagged at Hanshiqiao Wetland, Beijing.  Skybomb was the first of the Beijing Cuckoos to cross the Arabian Sea to Africa.