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.

Tuesday, 4th Oct , London - Ouagadougou

Chris Orsman writes - Today we know that the season really is underway when I’m woken at 3 ready for my 4am taxi to the airport. Some last minute packing to do of course. Rather a lot of luggage it has to be said. The early flight leaves on time to Brussels, followed by an onward delay, and then a diversion to Cotonou in Benin, before at last I arrive 6 hours late in Ouagadougou. Although it’s been hot in London lately, the 29C greeting me at 2100hrs as I leave the plane for the steps down to the tarmac, well, still a bit of a shock, even after a few trips here now. Through the usual checks, including being beckoned by the surly-looking customs guys who wanted to see in my luggage, and at some rather odd looking equipment within! Just as before, when I said it was for our work with Naturama, our project partners here in Burkina, smiles of recognition arrived and then a quick wave of the hand to usher me through. The familiar faces of Aly, Oumar and Daniel are there to greet me, and a welcome sight too! Lots of catching up to do, and a chat well towards midnight discussing what was to come this season, and, more immediately, during my week in Ouagadougou.

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