We’d be cuckoo to let these birds be­come ex­tinct

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

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)

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