The project

Our knowledge of ecology of migrants in their wintering grounds is extremely poor and severely hampers our ability to explain these declines and conserve this group of species. We lack even basic information about when birds arrive, the habitats they use and how they move around Africa.

The aim is to understand how Palearctic-African migrants use and move around the different vegetation zones found in West Africa, ranging from the semi-desert Sahelian region in Burkina Faso to the lush tropical rainforest in southern Ghana, and whether habitat change may impact them on their wintering grounds.

During the temperate winter of 2009/2010, using point count methodology and mist-netting, we recorded migrants along a degradation gradient at five different stations on a north-south transect. In 2010/2011 we plan to re-visit these sites as well as roving further afield to get a broader picture of migrant habitat use.

1 October 2009: Arrival in Ouaga

Phil Atkinson writes: Apart from having to leave Norwich at 2am the trip to Ouaga went smoothly. Despite having a huge luggage allowance the addition of a printer sent us over the requisite number of bags and we had to pay £132 in excess baggage. I considered pleading to Air France's better nature but the office staff weren’t having any of it!

Stepping off the air conditioned plane in Ouagadougou, the familiar wall of heat and humidity hit us. There is a very definite smell associated with African soils and the parched smell of baked earth was a comforting one - it held the promise of some exciting times ahead. Arrival at airports in Africa is often chaotic but despite a possible hiccup in customs (“Just what are these 130 metre-long metal tubes for and where’s the receipt…”) the mere mention of the name Naturama brought smiles and the ever present ‘Bon…’ and we were waved through.

Mohammed from Naturama met us and after changing money and shopping we met up with Judit Herreros, our volunteer ringer from Spain and settled in for the night at the Catholic Aids mission - the cheap accommodation of choice in Ouaga!

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