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.

9 - 12 October: Garde-boeufs

Phil Atkinson writes: The task of finding suitable ringing and transect sites continue. Oursi continues to offer surprises – an evening visit to the northern side of the lake produces a roosting Caspian Tern, the second record for the site, the first being in 1997. Also new species included Montagu's Harrier, Purple Heron, Little Egret and a closer look at the ducks reveal a number of migrant Garganey and Shoveler in amongst the masses of Whistling Ducks. These will be joined later by masses more migrant ducks from further north as the Niger Delta dries out and birds there are forced south.
The number of Cattle Egrets (Garde-boeufs in French) at roost is impressive and we counted 1500+ in the air at any one time. The continuous fly past of birds to roost continued for 30-40 minutes so 10,000+ is a conservative estimate of the number of birds roosting in the lake.

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