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.

Activities at Ouagadougou from 15th to 20th October 2010

Tina Mensah-Pebi writes: Muhammed from Naturama, and Oumar and Ali from the Oursi Site Support Group joined the group from Accra on a five-day activity in Burkina Faso which included meetings on fieldwork methodology for the second phase of the migrant project, birding and two days of ringing. The lowest number so far captured in one mornings fieldwork was recorded at Gonse, with three birds; a Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, a Black-rumped Waxbill and a Long-tailed Glossy Starling from five mist nets in an opened wooded savannah on the 16th of October. A good looking vegetation still looked promising for a second trial of ringing at the same site on the second day and two birds; Grey-backed Camaroptera and a Common Redstart were trapped. Juliet left Burkina Faso for London shortly afterwards with her enthusiastic and encouraging effort.

The Nature Park at Ouagadougou housed interesting, melodious, chanting, diverse bird species such as the Yellow-crowned Gonolek, Western Grey Plantain-eater, Vinaceous Dove, Laughing Dove, Village Indigo Bird, Little Bee-eater, White-billed Buffalo Weaver, Yellow-billed Shrike, Red-cheeked Cordon Bleu, Red-billed Firefinch, Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird, Common Bulbul, Double-spurred Francolin, African Paradise Flycatcher, Pied Kingfisher, Senegal Coucal, Hamerkop, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Northern Puffback and numerous species of sunbirds and weavers. Walking through the tumultuous path of birds, an attentive ear heard the calls of the Common Nightingale and the Western Bonelli’s Warbler.

The field team - Chris, Aly, Tina, Oumar, Mohammed and Abraham

Thanks to technology, Chris kept to his explicit leadership role and soon got both teams set for work in their respective places in Burkina Faso (Aly and Oumar) and Ghana (Chris, Tina, Mohammed and Abraham) by Wednesday the 20th of October.

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