Cuckoo Tracking – Lyster’s African Safari

Is Lyster really behind schedule?

I’m curious about Lyster (my favouredĀ  Cuckoo) trailing his four compadres south into Africa. It seems odd that their positions are not more randomly spread (at least in terms of latitude). I thought, perhaps, his variant, more scenic and coastal route might be a cause. Could be different local weather along Lyster’s track or simply that he was the last to leave the UK. Were these birds all of a similar age?

But then I thought of the technology.

They all have 5g (transponder weight approx.) of additional cargo to carry assuming a Cuckoo weighs in at 110g. Not much, but still 4.5% extra for its body weight. Then there is the aerodynamics. Thrust versus drag, lift versus weight might adversely affect a weaker or older (or younger!) bird. The transponder appears to be attached at three points; one at the front and one either side and, presumably anchored with straps of some kind. If a strap has slipped Lyster might be experiencing more discomfort than the others around the wings or the throat or even a feather sticking up in the airflow, causing dragĀ  around any strap or anchor point. The birds seem to fly head down(ish) which might increase smooth airflow over it’s upper body or, conversely, disrupt that smooth flow over Lyster’s upper body, at the leading edge of the transponder – a part of which must be exposed to collect sunlight.

What do other people think?

See the tracker/transponder at this page – it’s clever




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