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.

Monday 8th Oct Transition day

Today the Burkina guys are due to go back home (but in fact are needed for meetings at the office), and the Mauritanian team arrive.  Bara, Aly and I join Toby and Roger Jr for some more filming of rural scenes, including some tree planting.  We find a spot next to main road that looks appropriate, and we get some assistance from a chap who appears on his bicycle.  [We subsequently discover that he is now guardian of said tree, watering it and protecting it from livestock. We’ll check on it later to see if it’s surviving!]
Meanwhile, Roger S discovers that of the four tagged wood warblers, one has dropped its tail with the tag attached, and it’s the one that we tagged only yesterday!  Surely they’re not starting their winter moult already?  Those birds seen in Ghana last year didn’t start moulting until early December.  Could these earlier arrivals a bit further north be getting a head start?  Roger also has his doubts about another tag.  It appears to have remained in the same spot for a few consecutive fixes now, about 15m away within an inaccessible walled enclosure.  We need permission to get into said enclosure to see if it can be found.
Birds of note on site include pearl-spotted owlet, 4 long-tailed nightjars, Senegal eremomelas, chestnut bellied starling and gabar goshawk
A group of us head to town this pm, to price up the kit needed for solar power supply for the Oursi incubator etc, and look too for a gas freezer.  The latter turns out to be prohibitively expensive, so we will have to have a rethink!

Danaë and the film crew are trying to find suitable action to film around town, and the Mauritanian team arrive in Ouagadougou.

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