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.

At Tono Dam and the irrigation project sites, Ghana 24th to 29th October 2010

Tina Mensah-Pebi writes: Seeking permission from the traditional authority of Navro-Pio and permission from the Irrigation Company of Upper Region (ICOUR) Management, the project team were offered use of the dam area and a camping space at the Tono Guest house. On the first day of arrival the team visited the dam, noting that the habitat around the area looked promising for migrants. Three days of time species counts were carried out in the early mornings for about four hours. Day one recorded one Willow Warbler and a Reed Warbler, day two another Willow Warbler and a Common Sandpiper and day three a Spotted Flycatcher and a Willow Warbler. Among the surrounding reeds were Tawny-flanked Prinias always calling and Eurasian Marsh Harrier in flight. Willow Warblers were found foraging in fresh looking Madrax Thorns, both with and without flowers. The Reed Warbler’s call was heard in the reeds at the bank of the dam. The Common Sandpiper was seen at the fishpond area located in the Southwest of Tono. One silent Spotted Flycatcher was spotted between two trees of about 11m tall with a great cover of forbs underneath. A Levaillant’s Cuckoo was also seen on the 27th during the timed species count. On 28th, the search was carried out on a semi-natural agricultural area and migrants encountered were a Willow Warbler, a Yellow Wagtail (calling in flight), and the Eurasian Marsh Harrier. Unfortunately the numbers of migrants found in the good looking and promising area of Tono was not encouraging and so no ringing was undertaken.
Photos - 1) surveying from the top of Tono Dam, 2) the agricultural mosaic near the dam and 3) a rather bird-poor plantation near Tono

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