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.

Wednesday 14/12/2011 Accra and mid-season summary

Chris Orsman writes:
Today it’s my turn to return to the UK. A brief visit to the GWS office to wrap a few things up, and before long I’m heading to the airport. 10 weeks have flown by but an awful lot has been achieved and learnt. The two study sites have been well and truly established, a total of 13 target birds tagged, and hundreds of tracking fixes have been taken. Habitat has been mapped and some tree species have even been identified! Dozens of other migrants have been caught, weighed and measured, and many more have been mapped on their “territories” at each study site. It’s been a great start to this new phase of the project, thanks in no small part to the brilliant team. To Japheth and Nick for their excellent fieldwork, Oppong for his amazing food and Emmanuel for his help. And of course big thanks to our volunteer Bee, who with Ed is still tracking nightingales for a few more days yet!

Meanwhile as I return for Christmas, Aly and Oumar continue to gather valuable migrant data from the Sahel zone in the north of Burkina Faso. They have completed 3 monthly transect and ringing visits, and will be undertaking round 4 when many of us will be taking our seasonal break.

Plans are to return in January to the nightingales and the wood warblers, so watch this space for the latest in the New Year!

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