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.

7 October part 2: Storks and frustration!

Phil Atkinson writes: Going north, we drove over “dunes mort” or dead dunes - sand dunes that had stabilised with a layer of vegetation. This habitat stretches over vast areas and is a series of undulating dune ridges and slacks. Going to the north we came across flocks of White Storks, probably 200+ were seen but they stretched along the tops of the dune ridges as far as the eye could see. I had never seen such flocks before and even Georges was impressed when we told him about this at a later date. They were wary of us and did not allow us to approach to closer than 150-200m. Unfortunately we had to leave them behind; we all would have liked to spend some time with them checking for colour rings but we had to carry on.
Punctures are an occupational hazard when you travel off road in the bush and today luck was not with us. We got to the non-degraded area and got out expecting to go out into the bush but it became apparent that one of the types was soft. Not a problem normally but when the spare is totally flat (the puncture repair the day before hadn’t fixed the problem) we had to immediately jump back in and get back to the village as soon as possible as it would have been a long walk back if the type had gone completely flat! This was really really frustrating!

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