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.

Wednesday 10th Oct. Tag found, habitat training, and Japheth arrives

Roger continues with tracking with Oppong, and having gained access to that walled enclosure, they manage to collect the tag dropped earlier in the week.  In both instances the tags are stopped from emitting a signal with a tiny magnet taped to the outside, to turn off the internal micro switch. These tags can be used again, if we catch any more wood warblers that is.  Only one African paradise flycatcher caught this morning. Meanwhile, the Mauritanian team also head out to the monastery, to learn about habitat recording for the point counts.  Aly and Oumar help out (they’ve done more of this recently than anyone!) but then Aly is whisked off to town to search for his passport, hopefully now ready ahead of his trip on Saturday.  A great session, with lots of interesting points raised about the methods, and all seemed to be happy with the protocol, and confident about doing it themselves on the final day tomorrow.
Japheth finally arrives in Ouaga after a 24 hour bus trip!  We all take lunch at the office, but despite his gruelling journey, Japheth is keen to get out tracking some wood warblers this afternoon.  Whilst Danaë and Thandie chair some more presentations and training in the Naturama meeting room, Bara and I escort Toby and Roger II on some more filming excursions. This includes a spot by the roadside, when suddenly from nowhere distant sirens and flashing lights far down the road announce the arrival at speed of the entire government of Burkina Faso, en route to a military function down south in Pô.  A convoy of at least 100 vehicles, including a military helicopter escort!  Impressive, if a little OTT!
Much more peaceful scenes were to be had off road where a mother and baby collected some water from a communal borehole, and nearby some grand-looking baobabs cut an impressive silhouette in the early evening light.

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