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.

Sat 25th Feb - Fri 2nd March: More resightings than ever

Our newly tagged bird has proved delightfully easy to find each time of asking. We started with two attempts per day on Saturday and Sunday (whilst of course continuing to try to catch more). It seemed to have settled in one of two trees, making refinding the next time quite simple, so from Monday we tried 3 tracking efforts. Still remaining easy to find, the bird did on 3 occasions during the week end up some 300m away, but each time on the next relocation it was back in its favourite patch. Very curious behaviour! Lots of data is being collected on the habitat choice when we do manage to find the bird, and also on some randomly selected patches where the bird isn’t being seen.

Meanwhile, Tuesday late morning, whilst Nick and I were walking towards bird 6 to track it for the second time that day, we spotted colour-ringed bird 4, some 350m from where it was caught and last seen, 83 days now known to be on site. A new record – for now!

Brilliant news on Wednesday morning, as the crew managed to catch a 7th bird. Roger had set the nets along “Bird 2 path” (an area frequently used by bird 2 last December), and within the hour witnessed the new bird throw itself at the net. This time yet to complete its tail moult, it nonetheless had new central feathers to which we could fix a tag. Japheth expertly carried out the process, and again the bird was soon transmitting its location from the treetops. It has since proved a little trickier to find than bird 6, but it has still been seen 6 times over Thursday and Friday. Not quite so tree-faithful, it is hanging around the zone where birds 2 and 3 from December overlapped their home-ranges. In fact, quite amazingly, on Thursday pm, it was easily relocated, but not before bird 2 was spotted in the same tree! This means that bird 2 has now been on site for 97 days, longer than many wood warblers remain in their breeding woodlands in Europe!!

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