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.

15th March

After a top-notch and very cheap stay in Tamale (couldn’t possibly name the place as everyone will want to go there!) we didn’t get very far before a rear tyre popped. Fairly easy to replace with the spare, but we had to get this repaired at the next opportunity in case of another puncture. A bit of a wait to get this done in the very next town, but soon we were ploughing on towards and across the Burkina border. We stopped for a VERY long spell at a bank in Po to change a bit of cash, and with the queue barely moving we had to give up and try in Ouaga. A newly-surfaced road gave us hope of an early arrival, but then suddenly it stopped 20km short! The last bit into the Burkina capital was terrible, but at least this is in the throes of repair too. 6pm at our lodgings, and Aly and Oumar were already there. Fantastic to see them again, as I greeted them clumsily with my yet-again rusty French, and expressed our amazement and delight at Mr Walker’s impending nuptials.
Over dinner we planned to spend the next day exchanging data, and a few meetings with Georges and Idrissa. We decided that we could afford a team- building visit to the Ouagadougou Forest Park, especially too as Mark was new to the city!

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