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.

Sunday 14th Oct. More radio-tag issues...

Up and out without any hesitation this morning!  Pack my bags and leave the cell that was my room last night, and we’re off into the field by 0500.
Having set a net with a mixed warbler tape playing, the first bird caught (before I’ve even had time to finish opening the net) is a pearl-spotted owlet, right above the mp3 player!  What a cracking bird.

Later we manage just the one migrant, a most welcome first willow warbler of the season.
An extraordinary spectacle during the course of the morning was the procession of people on foot, on bicycles and on motos, heading for the monastery.  A very grand service was clearly about to take place.  After about 2 hours of worship, several of the congregation came to watch our work, or so it appeared, but then we soon realised that we were being ousted from our ringing shelter – another round of songs of praise was about to take place here too!  Not wanting to get in the way, we quickly wrapped up the mornings affairs and left the choir behind.
The evening’s tracking session indicates that there may be a problem with one or two of the 4 tagged birds.  One is static near a shea tree, on two consecutive search attempts, the other is proving difficult to find on the second effort.  We’ll have to have a good scour for any dropped tags tomorrow.
The evening’s meal is at a maquis nearer the lake in Koubri, the same place as one of the accommodation options yesterday.  Despite being quite busy, and with perhaps more atmosphere than the Koubri services, the food is disappointingly poor.  We must seek out some alternatives!
Glad to settle in to the nicer rooms back at Henri’s place tonight.  Much more comfortable!

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