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.

Saturday 8th Oct 2011 - Wood warblers and nightingales, Ouagadougou

Chris Orsman writes - Next day back at the monastery, we tried a recorded playback of the full breeding-ground “pew” of a wood warbler. With no luck early on, we then switched to full song, and in the next net round caught 1 right next to the source. Oddly enough no other birds in thatround of 6 nets, except for a nightingale! Very nice indeed.

Photo above: Aly and Oumar with wood warbler and nightingale

Photo above: Nightingale and wood warbler

Next round no wood warblers, but the third and fourth produced 1 each, both in the exact same spot by the mp3 player. Are they easier to catch now on passage when they are vocal, than later on when they seemed, last season at least, to be quieter? Moved the mp3 player to a spot with a nightingale croaking nearby, and subsequently caught a second of these. Another garden warbler was also caught, so not a bad morning for migrants.
Following news of Wales’s win over Ireland in the rugby, a “relaxed” afternoon of catching up on expenditure, and a few pointers to Aly regarding data entry. Not that he needed it – he was well under way with putting ringing data in before I got involved. Good man!

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