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 28/11/2011 Checking out yet more new accommodation

It’s definitely beginning to look like the best system for a day’s tracking is to invest as much time as can be allowed to actually find each bird and get a waypoint for its location, and record some detail of behaviour, habitat, and tree species, and any association with other birds. Having said that, still not actually seen bird 1 yet – but we’re getting close!

Aside from tracking today, we have a meeting with the owner of some wholly decent accommodation on the edge of town. Essentially a holiday home/ weekend retreat for himself, he has built some chalets nearby and rents these out to local professionals. He says that sadly there is no free chalet at present, but explains that for our last two weeks we can move into 3 rooms in his own house! Deal done!!

The grounds of our prospective new accomodation

On our way back from fieldwork this evening we were treated to some pretty good views of long-tailed nightjars resting on the track ahead of us. This meant that poor Japheth had to wait a short while in town for us to pick him up. Sorry Japheth!

Above photo: long-tailed nightjar

The nightingale tracking continues anabated. The team now have a full complement of 10 radio-tagged birds, which has become quite a handful to track twice and even three times a day! Bee and Chas have also undertaken some more habitat mapping of the site, and during the course of fieldwork came across this rather confiding African crake:

Above photo: African crake

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