Cuc – koo! Cuc – koo!
It all started like a treasure hunt. First we (Me, Roine and Mirja) had to travel down south to Weppa Farms, Agenebode on 18 May, with the hope of intercepting the African Cuckoos on their way up North. As it turned out, we were too late. Only the Red-chested Cuckoo, Diederic’s Cuckoo, Leveillant’s Cuckoo and Black Cuckoo were on ground to welcome us. After combing the lenght and breadth of the farm for 3 days, we decided to go back north on 22 May. At Abuja, we picked up Kasper before continuing the journey to Jos.
May 24: The morning was a hopeful one; the cuckoo trapping team was complete and our faces were beaming with excitement of the task ahead of us; CATCH 5 or 7 AFRICAN CUCKOOS! However, our first attempt within the Amurum Forest Reserve did not yield any result. We walked around for most part of the day, listening for cuckoos calling far away then walking in the direction of the calls. The day ended without any success.
May 25: We decided to drive down into Laminga village. Our hopes were raised when one Cuckoo came flying towards our direction in response to the playback we had. Quickly we determined a good catching spot, set up our nets, together with the stuffed Common Cuckoo and the playback. We watched keenly as a male Cuckoo flew round and round the nets, occasionally coming very close to the net. Soon there were 2 individuals flying around. But, again and again our hopes were dashed. Now we began to think “what were we doing wrongly?…”
May 26: As early as 05:00 we drove to Laminga, to the site where we encountered the 2 individuals the previous day. With the nets opened and fingers crossed, we waited patiently while our playback equipment entertained us with the famous “cuc – koo.. cuc –koo..” call. Soon a male was responding to our playback. After a while, Roine decided to lure the male towards the net. Indeed he seemed to have got the birds attention because now it was scanning the net to see who the intruder was. Suddenly, Roine was running, I was running and so was Kasper, all towards the net. Yes! We caught the first African Cuckoo. As I took the bird out of the net, the Hallelujah chorus rang in my head. Oh! What a feeling it was.
May 27: no success was recorded.
May 28: At another location in Laminga. Imagine a Cuckoo sitting on the net pole for some time and then dropping down to sit next to the stuffed cuckoo for over 30 minutes. That was the experience that evening until we managed to flush it into the net.
May 29: we moved the nets to Kerker and by evening using Roine’s tricks, we caught one more individual.
May 30: we move the nets to another spot within the area and by evening we had bird number 4.
May 31: we caught bird number 5 just 6 minutes after opening the nets.
June 1 – June 3: Attempts made to catch more individuals were not successful.
So far, data downloaded shows that the birds have been moving back and forth, relatively close the ringing site, (view image of Cuckoo 126696). On the image, the colour of the dot indicates the quality of the data; dark blue (representing the maximum location class, LC 3), light blue (LC 2) and green dots (LC 1). White dot is LC 0, while yellow and brown dots are LC A and LC B respectively. LC A and B are of poor quality and most likely not representative of where the bird was in reality.
I anticipate that soon we would be able to provide some answers to questions relating to intra-African migration, especially for the African Cuckoo.