Cuckoo opted for reverse migration after 4,000-mile trip from Congo

Sam Masters

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It was meant to be journey’s end; the culmination of the cuckoo’s 4,000-mile quest to hunt African caterpillars before returning to England to become the sound of the spring.

But for one bird the weather in Somerset proved too cold upon arrival – so he decided to take a break in France until things warm-up.

David was one of five cuckoos fitted with satellite tags in May last year by the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) to monitor their migration paths.

Today, details of the latest stages of their return journey from Ceredigion to the Democratic Republic of Congo were revealed for the first time.

And they showed that unlike his companions – Idemili, Iolo, Lloyd and Indy – David had managed to arrive back in the UK. But in what is believed to be the first known case of “reverse migration,” he decided to leave again.

After crossing the Bay of Biscay into Yeovil, Somerset, last Friday, he immediately headed back across the Channel to head to the outskirts of Paris. Dr Chris Hewson, who led the tagging project for the BTO, said: “People would say they would hear cuckoos one day, then they would disappear... now we know that this is true.”

It is thought David will wait until the weather improves in the South-west, where it is likely to be warm and clear this weekend, or decide to remain on the continent.

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