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 30/11/11 Accommodation upgrade!

Above photo: dawn over the study site

We have another go at catching this morning, this time with two nets and mp3 players, set over 100m apart. We get a response near one net pretty quickly, but sadly the bird does not choose to descend into the net. Whilst waiting for a catch we take a short walk away from the net site and I spot 4 wood warblers foraging high up in a leguminous tree, so we decide to try here with the net tomorrow.

Above photo: Chris and Japheth tracking wood warbler 3

Perhaps it’s a good job we didn’t catch any more, as bird 3 gives us a bit of a run-around. It appears to have settled in a seemingly impenetrable patch of forest, so we spend a good while circling this patch and getting as many fixes as we can to pinpoint its whereabouts. We do catch up with bird 2, and thankfully we manage to see bird 1 in the valley once more, and in the same tree as yesterday.

Above photo: unidentified arachnid

After a good morning, we decide that it’s time to move into our new, and it has to be said a lot nicer, accommodation. Not a bad pad – and a nice view to boot!!

Above photo: our living room
Above photo: the view from the house

Bee and Chas have continued success at the nightingale study site, with all ten tagged birds still detectable, and catching efforts have even resulted in retrapping one of them, along with some more amazing African species.
Above photo: female green-headed sunbird

Above photo: the retrapping of a tagged nightingale

Above photo: Levaillant's cuckoo

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