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.

Monday 17th Oct 2011 - Accra to Mpraeso

Chris Orsman writes: After a weekend of improved breakfasts, the wrong rugby results – well, half of them at least for a Welshman like me – and getting on top of finances, and it seems no-one has seen or heard from Abraham since last Thursday. We have to head out today, the date having hinged on Abraham’s availability. Experienced driver George is on hand, at least for this first week, but he assures us that he can’t cook! As luck would have it, we have an extra fieldworker joining us to be shown the project ropes – zoology graduate Nicholas. Apart from being a very welcome new addition to the team, he expresses an interest in cooking too. Nice one Nicholas! We’ll all muck in of course.
Five hours later and we arrive at Mpraeso, via famous Linda Dor’s rest-stop on the Accra-Kumasi road. At our destination we check into the hotel we used last time out, and then pop by the local forestry offices to announce our intentions, and to see if we can camp atop Mt Odwenanoma once again. A great welcome awaited, and aside from granting us all the permission we needed, director Jonathan gave us directions to an area of forest that we’d not visited before, the Northern Ridge East. Well, it sounded new....
We popped up the mountain to check with the local caretakers of the “visitor centre”, arranged to hire one room, and to pitch 3 tents. And all for the bargain same price as one room at the “cheap” hotel. Whilst we were chatting, a spotted flycatcher made an appearance in a small mossy-branched tree next to the caretakers’ house.
Photo above: View of Nkawkaw from Odwenanoma Mountain
Japheth, Nicholas and I took a wander down the hill with George ahead waiting in the car. A useful exercise to tune in to some of the calls we expect to hear tomorrow morning. Sharpe’s apalis, olive-green camaroptera, grey longbill, Sabine’s puffback and green hylia just a few of the calls heard, and on a telephone line strung beside the track another spotted flycatcher is seen hunting the same flying beasties as a nearby little grey flycatcher.
Then a last supper (I hope not!) at a resto before we endeavour to cater for ourselves over the next few days.

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