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 6th Oct. Path-lab training!

Whilst the rest of the crew stay at the monastery this morning, Bara and I go with Toby and Roger Jr to get footage of various rural scenes, including the activities at the shore of a nearby lake.
A couple of Levaillant’s cuckoos and a grey-headed bush-shrike caught this morning, but no further migrants.
This afternoon we spent a good few hours going carefully through the protocol of the treatment of the swabs that the Oursi team will be collecting.  After 7 days of rest in an incubator, each swab sample then goes through various treatments, before a final sample of the Trichomonas parasite can be labelled and then frozen until dispatch to the UK.  This was all fairly straightforward, but we’d rather overlooked the difficulty of power supply in Oursi, for both the small incubator and a centrifuge, and furthermore the low chances of finding any local freezer space!  A mission to check the viability of solar power was discussed, and deemed possible by those in the know.
Whilst the team headed out to a pizzeria in town, Thandie from BirdLife was on a flight in from Accra, arriving to coordinate the training of a team of four from Mauretania, themselves arriving on Monday.

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