Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Chris is in Africa

Chris — the BTO tagged Cuckoo — has made very rapid progress over the past few days. Having been still near Antwerp on 7th July, an unconfirmed location on Thursday 12th July placed him in the Po watershed, near the river Po itself northeast of Parma. We assumed he would be set in for a prolonged stop-over in preparation for his Sahara crossing but the expected confirmation of this location never came. Instead, we received a series of locations on Sunday 15th July showing that he had passed straight over mainland Italy and had stopped in Sicily!

But amazingly, just a week since he was last in Antwerp, locations received last night (16th/17th July) indicated that he was in the latter stages of his Sahara crossing. He was in the Tenéré Desert, a vast expanse of sandy desert in eastern Niger. The locations placed him about 500km (310 miles) north of Lake Chad. Last year Clement, the first Cuckoo to cross the desert, did so from 14th July so, assuming Chris left Sicily in the evening of 15th July, the timing of his crossing is very similar. This remarkable development means that Chris has now moved about 3,800km (2,360 miles) since we last received a location for him in Belgium ten days ago (7th July). We don’t know precisely when he left there but we received unconfirmed locations for him in northern Italy on 12th July and Sicily on 15th July so clearly he has not made any significant stop-overs other than the one in Belgium. He spent about a month there after leaving the UK so presumably this is where he did his preparation for the desert crossing — he's due to transmit again in two days; check out the BTO Cuckoo pages to see if he has managed to complete his amazing marathon from northern Europe to the savannahs south of the Sahara.

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