Nature Notes – October 2021

by Andy Johnston

Migration is fully underway and tracking devices are being used to locate where, in Africa, many of our summer visitors spend the winter. Wind is important for migrating birds and under the right conditions, significant distances can be achieved quickly. For example, on 1 September 2021, a cuckoo from England left Spain and, with a strong following wind, was 100 miles off the Moroccan coast the next day.

By the 6 September, after flying 1,850 miles across the Atlantic and the Sahara, it was in the Congo where it will remain until it heads back to us next spring. Prior to this it was thought that cuckoos stayed overland through Europe, over Gibraltar and along the West African coast. These micro-electronic devices can be attached to bats and even to butterflies to follow their migrations, enabling environmental scientists to do more of their research indirectly – so much for the nature walk!