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.

24th March

Chris Orsman writes: Sadly, the final day in Ghana for me, for this time at least! This morning worked on the GPS software to ensure that all the waypoint data from all the handsets were saved. The various files need consolidating/rationalising somehow! Meanwhile, Abraham had the car cleaned inside and out, and also had the spare tyre properly checked after our blow-out heading for Burkina! He picked us up to get to the office, and after a quick lunch he was to take his leave – his turn to get some well-earned rest before returning to the field with the team on the 27th. Tina was just finishing off entering ringing and habitat data, and Augustus was present too having recently returned from the US. Great to see him again, albeit just for the afternoon! After sorting through equipment lists and data files, we wrapped up and once again fond farewells were exchanged with Tina and Augustus. A final “last supper” at Tip Top in Accra, before a last beer at Yoko’s, and I waved goodbye to Mark and took my taxi to the airport. Sad to leave of course, especially with Mark continuing with another week or so of further roving! A very successful winter of fieldwork, and with such a brilliant team I sincerely hope I’ll be able to join them next season. In the meantime, I’m heading back to the UK to prepare to greet our migrants when they return in a few weeks. Best of luck to Abes, Alex, Mark, Nat and Tina for the last few days in the field. Have fun guys!!

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