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.

Thursday 11th Oct. Final day’s filming and training

The tracking and film crews leave early this morning, the latter hoping to get one last shot at a Burkina sunrise out in the bush.  The rest turn up a little later, and Aly and Oumar lead the training whereby the Mauritanian guys themselves undertake the bird count and habitat recording.  This goes extremely well, and the four trainees seem well prepared to take these new skills back home to apply to point-count transects at their local sites.
Roger and Japheth continue a cracking job of plotting the tagged wood warbler locations, taking the odd leaf sample from any unidentified trees.  If properly pressed these should be identifiable later, but with the help of an expert botanist methinks!  With one net up this morning, we manage to catch a further 2 wood warblers, and tag these with the transmitters that have been previously used on other birds, and dropped with the tail moult. One of these should last at least another 7 days, whilst the other was only active for a day before being picked up, so with any luck it should continue transmitting until around the 23rd or 24th Oct.  At the ringing station, though, there’s more attention from the local youth (Thursday again!)
For the afternoon, it’s one final foray in to the bush for Toby and Roger Jr, in search for Fulani herdsmen and their communities, and one final sunset too!
Once Carlo has finished arranging for his feather samples to be shipped back to the US, we head out for the final group meal, at a favourite of ours from previous visits, Dany Ice.  Despite a tiny quibble over the bill (my mistake - apologies to the staff!) the evening was enjoyed by all.

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