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.

13th March

Chris Orsman writes: Abraham drove Mark through the forest reserve to the village to find Francis, to be led into some of the reserve hinterland. Tina and I walked out from the guesthouse, and very soon heard our first Willow Warbler, close to where we had the bird yesterday. Another two followed, as well as a small surprise in a Wryneck alighting in a small tree next to our path. Very good views indeed! Further on and more good-looking scrub and forest edge, we were beginning to think that something was up. It was almost as quiet bird-wise as it had been late yesterday. With our hopes seemingly dashed, we entered the denser parts of the forest. Even passing a couple of clearings failed to produce what we had hoped for, and besides a few African Grey Hornbills and the odd Green Hylia, no further birds were noted. Very odd!
With time still left to spare we exited the forest back towards our lodgings, and then marched out along a track into the farmland. Collared, Olive-bellied and Green-headed Sunbirds were recorded, plus African Golden Oriole, and Green Turaco. Two Melodious Warblers were heard, and about 20 European Bee-eaters appeared to be heading north in a mix with 50 or so of their White-throated cousins.

Cashew crop in farmland outside the monkey sanctuary

Despite Mark seeing a handful willow warblers, pied and spotted flycatchers, considering the low numbers of migrants seen we could see no point in staying here another day, and we decided that now was the time to head up towards Burkina, with a view to Mark and I getting our passports stamped again, but also to fetch some more data from Aly and Oumar in Ouagadougou. A quick call to the guys and we had assurances from them that they could get to Ouaga for Wednesday night.
By an amazing coincidence, I heard news today that Tim Walker, our fabulous volunteer ringer from last year, was also in Burkina, and due to wed his Burkinabe fiancée Sophie on the morning of the 17th. Surely we had to attend?!
En route we were to stop at Damongo to help out with new arrival Jez from Cardiff University, here to study Pied Flycatchers. We arrived late PM at the lodgings, and were greeted by Jez and our long-lost team-mate Nat, who had accompanied Jez from Accra. A big group dinner was prepared by Abraham, and over a cold beer we discussed Jez’s mission and planned a Pied Fly-catching session for the next morning.

No comments:

Post a Comment

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