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.

3rd-4th February New site, new birds?

Vicky writes:

Bee, Ian and I bade a farewell to Nsoatre as we drove to pepease, pitstop for some fried rice, and a miscommunication resulting in “oriental” plain rice with “vegetarian” fish sauce for Bee we took in the street scenes of the hustle and bustle of Ghanaian life as Black Spinetails and Barn Swallows ushered us along the road southwards.

At Pepease, Chris O, Roger, Nick and Emmanuel welcomed us to our new and more salubrious home up on a hill with stunning view across a forested valley. They had kindly organised guide so that we could walk to see a Yellow-headed Picathartes in the evening, but unfortunately, after a good 3 hours of walking a no show from the bird meant we had to call it a night. We were disappointed but with Long-tailed Nightjar, African Pied Hornbill, Green Turaco and Little Bee Eater we certainly couldn’t grumble

It was with renewed hope then that we arranged to try again the following morning. We discovered with tired legs it might have been a better idea to pick a local guide who wasn’t quite so fit, as he frequently early left us for dust as we clambered and he skipped over boulders in the dry river bed that lead to where the Picathartes drink. Those in front saw a Gennet type animal and sharp eyed Roger and Nick spotted several nice birds on the way including a Velvet Mantled Drongo, and Bristle-nosed Barbet. Down by the river bed we saw some incredible butterflies, but alas again no Picathartes. Unfortunately, they are now very rare due to their forest home being harvested unsustainably. The buzz of nearby chainsaws of illegal loggers brought the reality of threat home.

Ian headed off his flight home after lunch. We will miss him, it was a great experience to ring together. In the afternoon Bee, Roger and I checked at the survey point for any wood warblers with colour rings, and saw Grey-headed Negro finch, Crested and Red-headed Malimbe and Rufous-crowned Eremomela, Buff-spotted Woodpecker and African Green Pigeon.

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