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.

16th March

Chris Orsman writes: I forgot not just how hot Ouaga can get, but how dry and dusty that heat can be here. You feel totally desiccated in no time! Sun-block on straight away with the sun barely up, we arrived at the park, and were immediately greeted by a small flock of Lavender Waxbills, and just inside a group of unusually-silent White Helmet-shrikes. Not far in and after a couple of Little Green Bee-eaters flew over we heard the first of a few Olivaceous Warblers, in pretty much the same patch as I had seen some with Tim at the end of last year’s season, plus a single Reed Warbler. Yellow-crowned Gonoleks everywhere as before, Northern Black Flycatchers singing, and more Squacco Herons than you can shake a ‘scope at! Plus the first Nile crocodile that I’ve seen in the park, basking on a weedy bank, and also several Black Crakes, African Jacanas, and a single Black-crowned Night Heron roosting close by. Walking back to meet Abraham, Aly spotted a Bonelli’s Warbler, but sadly not seen at all well by the rest of us!
After a 10p cuppa and an omelette sandwich (I do love those Ouaga-style greasy-spoon cafes!), we popped across town to the Naturama office. A few new and familiar friendly faces were there, including our Mohammed’s. Georges was all smiles, and busy as always! The day passed quickly with various exchanges of data and photos. Mark and I had a chat with Idrissa, keeping him informed of the project’s progress in both Burkina and Ghana, and later we talked with Georges of hopes for continued collaboration in Burkina in seasons to come. A very useful and productive day.

Little green bee-eater in Ouaga

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