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.

Sunday 9th Oct 2011 - Ouagadougou Forest Park

Chris Orsman writes: An early Sunday morning’s birding at Ouagadougou Forest Park, rewarded first by a couple of pied flycatchers, a smattering of nightingales, and an eventual tally of 13 wood warblers. The largest group was of 6 and these seemed to be associating with (or followed by?) a small group of Red-billed Firefinches. We heard a little bit of feeble winter pewing, but also 1 or 2 moments of winter “twittering” too. This further boosted the confidence re catching later on, although not sure whether they’ll have arrived as far south as our possible study areas in Ghana just yet. A few fruit bats were also spotted huddled together in a tree high above the footpath. I think they were a few of the remaining straw-coloured fruit bats that apparently amass here in August, in trees alongside the busy road at the West entrance to the park. By November they will have gone, and regroup further south in places such as central Accra.

Photo above: Straw-coloured fruit bats in Ouagadougou Forest Park

A late breakfast at a new place for me – un-named, so when asked what we should call it when writing out a breakfast receipt, the proprietor suggested “le Coin des Amis”. I hope it sticks!
The rest of the final day in Burkina is ensuring Aly & Oumar are completely au fait with the laptops, data entry and saving, and emailing. I try and fail to install any software to go with their GPS’s, but no great shakes for the moment.

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