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.

24- 25 February: Until next time?

A day of rest- seemingly for birds as well as people - this Sunday has been our first no-migrant day this trip. Red-faced Cisticolas and Grey-backed Cameropteras started a continuing trend of Afro-trops, with the highlights being a Little Grey Greenbul, two Senegal Coucals and two Brown-crowned Tchagras. We think the southerly wind, and moonlit night may have encouraged movement of migrants, and certainly made our nets easier to see. Some Afro-trops, rather frustratingly for us and them, seem to be quite trap-happy such as Little Greenbuls and Red-faced Cisticolas. They also have an annoying habit of resembling, for hopeful eyes when viewed at a distance from behind, Nightingales and European Reed Warblers respectively!

After the dull Sunday at the ringing table, Monday proved to be more exciting for more reasons than one. The team put up some additional nets on the north side in the hope of increasing the chances of catching passage birds. Migrants caught during morning and evening session were two new Nightingales, one Garden Warbler, one Reed Warbler and a Whinchat, and for Afro-trops- White-throated Bee-eater, Marsh Tchagra and a very impressive Double-toothed Barbet.

Double-toothed Barbet (John Black)

As the last of the afternoon session’s birds were ringed the group suddenly clocked the dark mountainous storm clouds on the horizon speeding towards us, a sudden strong wind warning us of its approach. Everyone rushed to get the nets furled before the rain hit.

Nick noticing the storm clouds (Vicky Gilson)

We had issues with the winds blowing our nets into the vegetation, and some nets had to be furled with vegetation still tangled in them as lightening now joined the thunderous horizontal rainfall and gales. As torrents of water cascaded down the previously dusty tracks, the team rescued a local man who needed a lift and gratefully jumped into the car, the heater was set on ‘hot’ for possibly the first time in its life as we shivered in the seats driving back to the guesthouse.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.