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.

22 Jan: No Nightingales today

Nightingale Team: An extra 15 minutes in bed for everyone today as it’s dark at 6am still we wanted to avoid catching bats instead of birds - nice as they are. We soon had plenty of migrants to keep us busy with Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, a Blackcap (two others caught previously last year 9th and 24th November) and Melodious Warbler.

The bird of the day was a Great Reed Warbler, which looked like a highly-magnified Reed Warbler. An Olive Sunbird put in an appearance - complete with pectoral “tufts” that looked a bit like it hadn’t shaved its underarms. The weather was very sunny and breezy so not ideal for ringing. The wind soon got up so Ian and I took down the nets as Bee radio-tracked the two tagged Nightingales. Oppong and Ian went out after lunch for petrol and a cutlass to trim net rides and came back with a coconut each too. Delicious and full to the top of coconut milk. We had a front row seat on how to open a coconut using a cutlass and I’m surprised so many Ghanaians still have a full compliment of fingers!

Little Bee-eaters and a two Lanners also flew over the hostel in the afternoon. No Nightingales (boo) today but as it still seems to be quite breezy we’ll do the non playback Nightingale transects tomorrow instead of ringing. Internet is very temperamental and intermittent at best so apologies updates are slow......

Posted on behalf of Vicky

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