The world’s most famous cuckoo has gone missing.

Since 2011 Chris, named after Southampton naturalist and broadcaster Chris Packham, has carried a satellite tag which allows experts at the British Trust of Ornithology (BTO) to track his movements.

Today the BTO reported Chris had gone “missing in action” over the Sahara on his return flight to Africa from Britain.

He left these shores on July 4 and arrived at his usual stop-over site in Italy’s Po Valley 12 days later.

However the Po Valley had undergone a severe drought this year which meant caterpillars, Chris’s favourite food, were in short supply.

Several of the BTO’s tagged cuckoos, including Chris, spent a shorter time than usual feeding and resting in Italy before taking off for Africa.

Phil Atkinson, BTO scientist, said: “British Cuckoos have had a rough time this year with poor weather here in the UK and on their usual stop-over sites in northern Europe. A series of poor signals from Chris’s tag show that he has made it to the Tibesti mountains in northern Chad but he seems to have been here for around eight days.

“This is very worrying as he normally crosses the desert in a day or two, stopping on the shores of Lake Chad in the south of the country and on the southern edge of the desert.

"At this stage we are very concerned about him and wait with baited breath for further signals which will tell us whether he is still alive or not.

"Chris is a very special bird for us and we have our fingers crossed that his tag will transmit new information from a different location very soon."

Chris Packham, said: "Chris has rewarded the BTO with its highest honour - important new reliable data - and has revolutionised the way we understand migration.

“And, if he has fallen in action then 'In some corner of a foreign desert that is for ever Cuckoo. There shall be in that gold sand a richer dust concealed'. But let's hope not!"