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.

Tuesday 9th Oct Solar power and point-counts

Now that their ringing training has finished, Pierre and Soumilah manage to head back to Sourou and Higa IBAs this morning, whilst all of the Oursi team remain until we manage to get all the equipment that they need.  Aly is staying in Ouagadougou anyway, as he will be going to the Pan-African Ornithological Congress in Tanzania on Saturday.  DanaĆ« will be giving a presentation based on much of the data that they have been gathering from Oursi these past 3 seasons.
Following their arrival yesterday, the Mauritanian team begin their training at the Naturama office, with an introduction to the programme from Thandie and DanaĆ«.  Over the next few days they will learn the field techniques for undertaking point counts of the birds in the various, often degraded, savannah habitats around the wetlands back at their homes in Mauritania.
Some great news from Ghana!  We hear from Japheth that he has set off by bus from Accra, due to arrive tomorrow mid-day in Ouagadougou.
Following another trip into town this afternoon, we collect all the solar power kit, and a few other sundry items for the storage of the samples that will be taken from the doves caught in north Burkina.  Following an internet search, we find what looks like a great option for a battery-powered deep freezer, for sale in the UK and elsewhere.  Back at the Lodge in Sandy, Jo looks into options for getting one such fridge shipped from the UK.
In the late afternoon a large group including the Mauritanian team head out to do some point count exercises in the grounds of the monastery.  Not quite typical of the habitat back home in Mauritania, but if anything trickier as the vegetation is a bit more complex here.  They soon get the hang of it!

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