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 12/01/12 Leaving the cold behind

After a pretty mild spell of weather in the UK over the Christmas break, it looks like there may be a rather cold snap on the way. Just about the right time then to be heading back to West Africa! A meeting on Tuesday ahead of departure was attended by new volunteer Roger, a very experienced fieldworker and ringer in Africa, having spent several years in both Cameroon and Uganda. Whilst I head for Heathrow for a leisurely afternoon flight, Roger is already in the air from Norwich to Accra via Amsterdam. Fingers crossed we can find each other at the other end!

With everything going smoothly up to arrival, a few nervous moments as the crowd thins at my carousel – has my luggage made it? Roger arrives very soon after my flight, and he finds his bag straight away. Mine must have been at the bottom of the pile on the plane, as thankfully it eventually appears! A blast of heat on leaving the airport – is it supposed to be this hot at this time of year? 29°C seems excessive at 10pm! (Despite escaping the UK cold, I admit I was grateful for the a/c at the hotel later on) A short cab ride to the hotel, followed by the inevitable mix-up with the booking, now all that remains is to find Bee in the morning.

Chris Orsman

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