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.

Friday 5th Oct. Alphonse's farm

Take nets down and put in Alphonse’s patch near the farm.  Doesn’t look great for migrants but we do manage another laughing dove for Aly and Oumar to learn again how to take an oral swab.  A great catch too is a menacing-looking bearded barbet.

With things generally more peaceful here than yesterday (although with a few more birds) the trainee ringers get some good practice at handling and processing one or two birds themselves, under the brilliant tutorship of Aly and Oumar.
En route back to the hotel, Toby and Roger Jr film some of the views of the sprawling suburbs of Ouagadougou, highlighting the degradation of the landscape as the wooded savannahs are replaced by breeze-block and mud-brick buildings with a very few trees allowed to remain for shade, fruit or timber.
The afternoon is spent at the hotel sorting out ring stocks for both the Burkina and Ghana teams, with the Oursi lot having their first read through of the protocol for the various pathological samples that they will need to take.  A full training session for this will take place tomorrow.
Oppong treats us to a meal of “red-red” this evening – a Ghanaian favourite but a first for us in Burkina!

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