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.

22nd 23rd March

Chris Orsman writes: Two pretty interesting days. First we repeated the transects that we last followed about a month ago. Most of the migrant species seen were still present in roughly the same areas. On day two we attempted some ringing on the hillside, with the hope of catching a Wood Warbler or two. Once we’d located the first bird, we set up a single net at the roadside. After quite a wait it seemed the bird either wasn’t interested or that the net and song-playback just weren’t close enough to its patch. We moved the net nearer, stood back, and after about 10 minutes a Wood Warbler popped into the net. Tina sprang into action and ably extracted the bird. After ringing we recorded that it wasn’t carrying all that much fat, so we felt that this individual would be staying around for a few more days before starting any long northward journey.

Tina rings a captured wood warbler

Nat and captured wood warbler

Further attempts were made to catch another, with the net moved twice more, but to no avail. It would appear that even when we find a good spot for Wood Warblers, it isn’t easy to catch them! Nevertheless, this was a fine end to my last day of fieldwork.
So with my return to the UK looming we headed back to Accra, with me waving goodbye to Nat at the bus station as he headed home for some well-earned rest! Mark and I went back to our usual Accra hostelry, as Abraham returned all the equipment to the office before he and Tina headed homewards.

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