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.

Burkina Faso: Ringing Report from Nazinga 6 – 17 February

Tim Walker writes: The Burkina Team are now back in the capital, Ouagadougou, for 2 nights, before travelling north again to Oursi for our final stint there this trip.

Picture of me sporting traditional Tuareg headgear....just the thing for the sun (although notice how I've found a nice patch of shade....!)

So we are halfway through the programme and already there are stark differences between the 2 sites. From a ringing perspective, operations at the Ranch de Gibier de Nazinga revealed a more than significant drop in captures as compared to Oursi. With an identical 11 netting sessions of comparable time span, the total numbers caught were 337 new and 20 retraps. This gives a combined running total of 1223 new and 86 retraps, making 1289 captures.

Of this 1289 total, 27.7% has come from Nazinga and 72.3% from Oursi. The most revealing fact about the Nazinga catch is that it only contains 1 Palaearctic migrant, a solitary first winter male Redstart! And that, despite tape luring on alternative mornings using a variety of species calls, though concentrating on phylloscopus warblers and Pied Flycatcher.

Whilst at Nazinga we continued to catch small numbers of African warblers such as Grey-backed Camaroptera, Tawny-flanked Prinia, and Senegal Eremomela. Perhaps the most challenging to extract were a small party of 3 Bearded Barbets that seemed to be attracted to the mixed phylloscopus tape! They are hideously beautiful with massive vice-like bills and clenched feet that make Starlings a breeze to extract by comparison. Nor for the faint hearted, let alone raw trainees!

As a first time visitor to this part of the world the window of new birds revealed to me is staggering. Too many to list here, but some of the most dramatic include White Helmet Shrike, Bruce’s Green Pigeon, Grey-headed Bush Shrike, Red-throated Bee-eater, Giant Kingfisher, Pied-winged Swallow, Green Wood-hoopoe, Lavender Waxbill, African White-backed Vulture, Yellow-billed Shrike, both Lesser and Greater Honeyguide, Pearly Spotted Owlet, Banded Martin, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Blue-breasted Kingfisher, Black-crowned Tchagra, Striped Kingfisher, 3 species of sunbird, Yellow Penduline Tit, White-rumped Swift, White-shouldered Black Tit, Yellow-mantled Widowbird, Grey-headed Kingfisher, Little Bee-eater, Greater Painted Snipe, African Fish Eagle and Yellow-fronted Canary.

A Red-throated Bee-eater - a truly stunning bird.

The other notable difference between the 2 sites is that at Nazinga there are no domesticated goats, sheep, cattle, or donkeys. There are mammals, but they tend to be of the wild variety. Hence we are enraptured by Elephants daily, Anubis baboons, Green Monkey, Warthog, Roan Antelope, Waterbuck, Bushbuck, Oribi and Buffon’s Kob. Nile crocodiles are viewed from a safe distance in the lakes!

At Oursi nets are set at height to allow all but cattle to pass underneath. At Nazinga its fingers crossed as anything larger than a monkey or warthog will trash your net if contact is made! So far so good at that site.....

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.