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.

19th – 28th Oct Final week of tracking

The tracking team continued with the regular check-ups on the whereabouts of the tagged birds in the Monastery. Some interesting patterns are again emerging, just like on the study site in Ghana, and we’re gaining an interesting early picture of the home ranges of the birds in this area, along with some measure of how long they spend here.  The final tagged bird was still emitting a signal on the 27th, but with only a projected 2 or 3 days left to run, we decided that a team of 4 would be better occupied surveying new areas for wood warbler presence.  Over the next few days we will explore any areas that look suitable (or even wooded/partially-wooded areas that don’t look suitable!) to see if there are any birds around.
In other news for the period, Aly returned from Tanzania with a view to returning to Oursi with a soon-to-arrive mini-freezer.  Said freezer took another 2 days to land in the country and we had to wrest it from customs so that Aly could speed his way north in time for the Tabaski festival.  I’m pleased to report he made it!  He has subsequently said that the freezer works brilliantly, powered by the battery that’s charged by the newly installed solar panels.  They’re all set to go with the dove Trichomonas parasite sampling.
Another visit to the forest park in Ouaga on the 25th yielded some quite extraordinary figures.  With 52 wood warblers seen last week, a different, wetter section held 79 birds, with a group of 20+ in just one spot.  Truly remarkable!

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