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.

Friday 09/12/2011 No sign of #1, but #4 is found

Friday morning and one last effort to catch, at least before Ed arrives – we’ll have another go on the 11th, but probably only to colour ring I think. No luck today anyway, so we get on with the tracking. After successfully catching up with birds 2 and 3, Bee and Nick set off from the village to seek out bird 1 in the valley. Japheth and I decide to have a look for bird 4 despite the fact that it wasn’t radio-tagged. We feel that as it is colour-ringed, and so long as it hasn’t moved too far, we have a fighting chance of spotting it. Within a short while we manage to find it, along with 2 others and also 3 garden warblers, foraging at times quite low down to about 2-3m. This is a great result without any radio tag, but then again it had barely moved any distance at all from where it was caught. Like the 3 others, this bird was in a rather poor condition when trapped, so if it does “intend” moving on any great distance it will need to put on weight first.

Above photo: site of capture and resighting of bird #4

We meet Bee and Nick back at the other side of the valley, and they bring news that there was no signal to be heard from bird 1. In this case we feel that it may well be possible that it has moved on. It is also perfectly possible for the tag to have finally expired, however, some 14 days since it was switched on.

Above photo: colourful bugs in valley forest

News from poor Ed is that his onward flight from Rome is delayed, so he expects to get to Accra well after midnight. It could be worse though. And it gets worse! Later in the evening Bee learns that his flight is delayed until the early morning, so he is now due in Accra when Emmanuel is due to leave at about 8am – so he’s going to get picked up from the airport and straight into the field tomorrow.

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