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.

Sat 10/12/2011 Ed’s arrival

No trapping this morning, straight into the tracking, and only the two birds to find. Despite “losing” bird 1 yesterday (still no sign last evening) bird 2 could also be untraceable today, as they were tagged together. No need to worry however. Both remaining birds have tags with a good signal.
Above photo: enormous spider seen daily when tracking bird 3

The rest of the morning is spent mapping some habitat, and quite interesting too to discover just how the land is carved up between the farmland, scrubby fallow and the remnant forest. There seems to be more of the latter than I would have previously guessed, with the open arable fields making up less than one third of the land area. Much of the scrubby fallow, however, is impenetrable without a machete, due to the dense Chromolaena stands, so the exact acreage of this we can’t yet measure without more work from January.
News filters through during the morning that Emmanuel and Ed have met up at the airport and are on their way, and sure enough at midday they arrive at the local canteen. Despite being undoubtedly tired, Ed is keen to help out in the field and joins us tracking in the afternoon.
Above photo: a somewhat out-of-place leaf-mantis

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