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 05/12/2011 Visa extension and team expansion!

We set two nets with playback in the most promising spot from Sunday’s survey, but after almost an hour and a half we had caught no further birds. Things are beginning to look a lot trickier for catching now. Not sure why this should be, seeing as we had so much luck with our first two attempts.
We pack up from the field and head back to camp, as with 60 days on my visa running out soon, I need to get an extension stamp from the nearest immigration office, which is in Koforidua. And with the nightingale team packing up today and heading to join us, we need to be back sharpish. Meanwhile our landlord Ola is heading off back to Accra, but has very kindly agreed to all 6 of us staying in his house for the night, which is fantastic.

Arriving in Koforidua at the immigration office just after midday, we are told that the officer in charge is absent until 2pm, so we file the paperwork, head for lunch, and return (with fingers crossed - especially seeing as I have handed in my passport!) Back at 2, and thankfully by 3pm all the paperwork is in order, so we head back home. There we meet up with Bee, Chas and Oppong who have already arrived - fantastic to see them all again!

We phone ahead to the local hotel to make sure of our evening meal order, but then as seems to happen every night from about 1830 to 2200hrs, the power goes off. The local hotel has a back-up generator, but they actually call to say this is not working either! We won’t be eating at the hotel, then. Instead we head to Abetifi and have rice and beans by torchlight at Club Afrik. Cheap and not too cheerful! Still, it’s a meal, and I hope a memorable final dinner in Ghana for Chas.

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