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.

1st February-2nd Feb Leaving Nsoatre

Vicky writes:

Over the last couple of days Bee, Ian and I have been gearing up for the last couple of days we shall spend based in Nsoatre as we will be driving to Pepease to work with Chris Orsman at the Wood warbler site. A team of ringers will be coming to carry on the work in a few days after we leave. We have been busy packing, and catalogued the field samples we had collected of the Palearctic migrants that will be analysed later in the lab. We also came to the rescue of a chick at the hostel that had decided to belly flop into a pan of oily red tomato sauce waiting to be washed up outside. A lather with soap, and some wet wipes later newly dubbed “tomato” was back with mum and his brood mates, disaster averted, and all in a days work for a fieldworker.

The 2nd was our last day of ringing at Nsoatre before heading off to Pepease, and we wanted to catch another Nightingale to fulfil the objective of 10 birds which would provide a good sample size. On the transect Nightingale “17” had been rather isolated, being a good few hundred metres away from the nearest “11”, so we targeted this patch to close this gap. As if sensing our impending departure the first bird caught was nightingale number “19”, and after the subsequent net rounds, the last bird we caught was also a nightingale “20” a perfect result! The next team will have their hands full tracking the 12 birds, which will take around 2.5-3hours to track, twice a day. It will be fascinating to see how these birds will behave over the next few weeks of the project, and as the tags last approx 18 days there will be a good data set.

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