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.

Ghana: 20 November. Transects looking better!

After struggling to see a migrant on the transect counts in the previous round in October, Chris Hewson says the mood of the team is looking up. He emails "Things looking up on the migrant front here - 5 Melodious and 4 Willow Warblers, 1 Whinchat, 1 Tree Pipit seen on 1st transect - 2 Willow, 1 Melodious and 1 Whinchat actually on points which makes a pleasant change!"

A note from Chris Orsman in Burkina Faso says they were struggling to find Melodious Warblers further north, whereas they were the commonest migrant in October. Melodious Warblers were in the last stages of moulting their feathers in the Sahel when the team arrived in October. Now they have finished they are filtering down further south. We suspected this might happen but it is great to actually observe these patterns - Phil Atkinson

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