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.

9th – 12th Feb Record count on study site

An excellent couple of days on the study site with the big team, including an amazing tally of over 60 birds over three mornings of transect. With the department heads seeing the site for the first time all sorts of ideas are discussed as to the future directions and requirements for the project.  I think a few new “lifers” were had by one or two as well!  The highlight it seems was the reliably “resident” standard-winged nightjar that performed brilliantly in the gloom pre-dawn on the 10th.

Surveying Pepease study site. Front to rear: John, Juliet, Danaë, David, Roger & Japheth

Newly-cleared understorey of denser forest block on Pepease study site
Once Danaë et al departed to investigate sites for roseate terns, the usual team of 4 prepared for a further 12 days of forest roving, but this was soon delayed by one day for a quickie service in Accra for the car.  Here’s hoping the car holds out for the rest of the season...
In the meantime, whilst waiting for the car, Roger goes birding around the farmland near to our lodgings, and amazingly stumbles accross the nest of a greyish eagle owl. What a find!

Back end of greyish eagle owl brooding chicks

Greyish eagle owl chick  - check later post for update!

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