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.

Saturday-Saturday 24th-31st March: The season ends, and the birds disperse?

The very last period of tracking of the season, and Rog and Japheth kept up with our wood warblers for much of the period. They did report however that the birds’ movements were becoming more erratic, seemingly roving over a wider area. Eventually, one by one from around the 28th to 30th the tags failed, or the birds disappeared – at this late stage we may never know which! Certainly there’s no time left available to cold-search for any colour-ringed birds. Roger tells me he felt that on the 31st, as they were finishing off some habitat surveys, they encountered far fewer wood warblers than we might have expected at the peak. Do fewer vocalisations mean they have just gone quiet, or have they genuinely moved on? Roger says he’s erring on the side of the latter!

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