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.

21st-30th November Tracking gets tricky, and more birds are required!

Lately things have been proving difficult.  On the evening of Asante’s capture on the 20th  the signal from his transmitter disappeared altogether, and we were worried that he may have fled the study site.  However, on the 21st some extensive searching picked up on a signal, some 500m from where he was caught, and eventually led us to a spot a full 1km from the catch site.  Over the next couple of days he was fairly mobile, but eventually he settled down, roosting and feeding in one area, and spending much of the day in a wooded area some 300m away.  Meanwhile, a second bird was caught on the 22nd.  Named Black Star, after the star on the Ghana flag and the name of the national football team, he proved to be even more difficult to pin down upon release.  In this case he moved 1km away to the west, way beyond the bounds of the study area defined last year.  Moving into more difficult terrain for us trackers, we could only estimate his position for a few days, if indeed we could get a signal for him at all.  On the 27th the signal was strong enough for us to discern more readily which direction to head for through the forest. In uncharted territory, we finally spotted him in an Albizia some 850m from his release site, so a fair bit closer than our earlier estimates (we’re pretty sure he’s moved closer than he was on earlier dates).  Since then he’s been spotted once each day (the time and effort it takes to get to where he’s hanging out precludes any more frequent search attempts, with Asante trackable 3 times per day).  With one team tracking, the other (and occasionally Oppong helping out too!) has been attempting to catch more wood warblers for tagging, but with no luck after many hours of effort.  The 2 tagged birds are giving us some great data, but it would be nice to get at least another 1 if not 2 to keep us busy with tracking until we leave on the 12th of December.

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