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.

Thursday-Sunday 01-04/12/11 Now failing to catch....

Above photo: fog blankets the study site

Over the next few days we attempt to catch each morning, and after an hour of trying on each occasion we remain on 3 tagged wood warblers – not one more bird caught. We follow this with the tracking of the first 3 birds, and on the Sunday we also undertake a full survey along the usual transect route.
Above photo: misty morning

Above photo: centre of study site with the mist lifting

Above photo: pied hornbill calling

Above photo: late morning, Japheth tracking bird 1 in the valley bottom

Above photo: in denser vegetation making things more difficult

What was interesting from the survey was the lack of wood warblers seen aside from those that we already knew about and had tagged! In fact, bird 3 was spotted 300m from it’s usual spot without resorting to tracking. We did encounter a total of 5 others, in just 2spots. With 4 of these in one place, the Monday morning netting attempt was going to be right next to this spot.

Meanwhile on Sunday we're invited to take lunch with Ola our landlord - a fabulous mix of all sorts of traditional Ghanaian dishes, served up al fresco in the shade of the large gazebo in the grounds. We really shouldn't get used to this!!

Above photo: taking some lunch with the landlord

Above photo: yam, kenkey, rice balls, tilapia and bush-meat, followed by strawberries and icecream!

Bee, Chas and Oppong have begun to wind things up over at the nightingale site, completing the habitat mapping. Amazingly, Chas got to spot a grasshopper warbler during fieldwork, according to the field guide a species not normally found this far south, in fact very rarely encountered in Ghana at all.

The final full site survey was carried out after some particularly damp weather conditions, which totally drenched the vegetation, and made the fieldwork a rather wet job!!

Above photo: no not rain, but the vegetation was soaking wet!

Still more incredible creatures have been to visit the Nsoatre team...

Above photo: an amazing butterfly

Above chameleon - now you see me... you don't

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