We’d be cuckoo to let these birds become extinct
THE BTO has launched a public appeal for donations to enable it to continue its groundbreaking research into declining cuckoo (bottom left) and nightingale (bottom right) populations.
English cuckoo numbers have dropped by 75% since 1967 and those of nightingales by 90%—it’s feared that the latter could become extinct in the coming decades. Both are summer visitors, returning from Africa each year to breed, and the BTO has undertaken longterm satellite-tracking projects to monitor their movements outside of the breeding season, to see if habitat availability and conditions during migration could be factors in the decline.
Although nightingale numbers remain stable on the Continent, the bird’s range in Britain has contracted by 40% in 50 years and it’s now absent from many former haunts, suggesting much of the problems are closer to home. Data collected from the BTO national nightingale surveys has been of key importance in representations against the hotly contested plans to build houses on its prime British site, Lodge Hill in Kent. Visit www.bto.org/ cuckoo-nightingale to find out more and to donate to the appeal. Jack Watkins ‘I travelled among unknown men,/ In lands beyond the sea;/nor England! Did I know till then/what love I bore to thee’: poems by Wordsworth, as well as Thomas Gray, Rudyard Kipling, Byron, Shakespeare, Blake and many others, extol the beauty and character of our countryside and customs in the new collection Favourite
Poems of England, edited by Jane Mcmorland Hunter, published tomorrow (Batsford, £9.99)