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 13th Oct. Moving on

Whilst tracking this morning, we hear from Oumar that they’ve arrived in Dori by 0700, and subsequently at 1430 that they’re back in Oursi and that Daniel has passed by Dori, already on his return.  Good going!  We get a message, too, from Danaë, to say that the airline has once again lost her luggage en route to Tanzania. How unlucky can you be?!  Whilst Roger and Japheth continue with tracking, Oppong and I head out to look for new digs.  We can no longer justify commuting from Ouaga to the monastery every day!  Some pokey straw-roofed concrete huts don’t cut the mustard, an alternative in Kombissiri seems too far away and expensive, and the Hotel Bouganvilliea looks a little tired, expensive and even further into the bush than the monastery.  Still, our visit here did yield cracking views of a barn owl.
The final choice of accommodation is at the residence of NGO worker Henri from France.   It’s a lovely spot just outside Koubri, and a few hundred metres from the road, so very peaceful.  This will definitely do.
We clear out of the Ouagadougou hotel somewhat late, and after changing some cash at the airport, we head back to the study site for the evening of tracking.  Having found all the birds without difficulty, and with the light fading, we hear the calls of pearl-spotted owlet, white-faced scops owl, African scops owl AND Greyish eagle owl: a very good day for owls all round!
On arriving at Henri’s place we find that there’s been some confusion, and not all our rooms are available.  Rog and I are going to rough it in two tiny rooms for tonight.  Henri appears with a welcome beer for those that want, then we head out for our first evening meal in Koubri.  A delightful spot in the corner of a garage forecourt, now dubbed Koubri services!  Back at the lodgings, it’s time to put up my mosquito net  - as much as anything to keep the cockroaches from crawling into bed with me!  In the process, the bedstead collapses under my weight, the bed light falls off the wall and shorts the entire electricity supply.  Roger helps with a torch whilst I put the rest of the net up, then attempt to sleep in a baking hut with 2 fans, but neither working!  Will be glad to only have one night here...

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