Friday, 31 December 2010

Migrant Birds in Africa

See the Migrant Birds in Africa Blog reporting the progress by the RSPB & BTO in researching our migrant birds south of the Sahara, including work at Oursi.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Oursi bird counts – report to the Cambridgeshire Bird Club

As reported in earlier postings, the local Site Support Group supported by Fondation des Amis de la Nature (NATURAMA, BirdLife partner organisation in Burkina Faso) has undertaken bird counts at Lake Oursi. For the period December 2009 to June 2010, this work has been supported by the Cambridgeshire Bird Club. We have received a comprehensive report from NATURAMA about this survey work. Surveys have been undertaken on a monthly basis, with 13 transects covering the lake and the surrounding drylands. The five counts between November 2009 and March 2010 resulted in a total of 265,546 individuals counted in 53 species, among them 20 species of wader (see posting below for details). During the April count, 50 species were observed with a total of 64,974 individuals. The most numerous species were Fulvous Whistling-Duck (9033 individuals), Garganey (7138), Cattle Egret (7000), White-faced Whistling Duck (6550), Black-tailed Godwit (5494), Ruff (5221), Purple Gallinule (4961) and Spur-winged Goose (3104).

The survey work in 2009 and 2010 has allowed for an improved understanding of where the priority sites for birds are located in the area. The Site Support Group, which also runs a programme of environmental education, focused in particular on school children, will continue the survey work. A copy of the report to the CBC (in French) is available for CBC members from peterherkenrath(AT)yahoo.co.uk.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Waterbird counts at Oursi, Burkina Faso, November 2009-March 2010

With support from the Cambridgeshire Bird Club, the local bird club at Oursi and Naturama (the BirdLife partner organisation in Burkina Faso) have undertaken monthly waterbird counts at Oursi from November 2009 to March 2010. The most numerous birds were White-faced Whistling Duck (58,000 birds, with a maximum of 16,000 in February), Ruff (36,700 individuals, with peaks of 12,000 in January and 10,000 in February), Garganey (35,400, peaking at 12,600 in January), Black-tailed Godwit (33,500, with 11,700 in January), Spur-winged Goose (a total of 23,400), Fulvous Whistling Duck (18,700), Knob-billed Duck (14,100), Purple Swamp-hen (12,100), Cattle Egret (9,900), Spotted Redshank (3,800), Black-winged Stilt (2,400) and Glossy Ibis (1,650). Other species recorded in smaller numbers included 846 Grey Herons, 21 Purple Herons, 71 Squacco Herons, 62 Great and 113 Little Egrets, 101 Greenshank, 615 Wood Sandpiper, 185 Marsh Sandpiper, 107 Common Sandpiper, 43 Green Sandpiper, 12 Eurasian and 7 African Spoonbills, 107 Ringed and 89 Little Ringed Plover, 32 Common and 19 Jack Snipe, 253 Little Stint, 43 Moorhens, 9 White Storks, 111 Marsh and 6 Montagu’s Harriers.

Monday, 8 February 2010

October 2009 bird count at Oursi

Our partner bird club undertook another inventory of birds at Oursi in October 2009 (see postings on previous counts). The count included 14 transects. A total of 13,045 wetland birds in 29 species were counted. The most common waterbird was once again White-faced Whistling Duck with 7634 individuals, followed by Garganey (1470), Cattle Egret (1209), Knob-billed Duck (621), Spur-winged Goose (478), Black-winged Stilt (471), Ruff (233), Spur-winged Plover (227) and Glossy Ibis (184). Other species well-known to us include 96 Grey Heron, 94 Wood Sandpiper, our logo bird Black-tailed Godwit (26 individuals), 11 Moorhen, 7 Marsh Harrier, 6 Yellow Wagtails, 5 Ringed Plover, 5 Greenshank, 2 Little and 2 Great White Egrets and a single Jack Snipe.

In the dry areas, a total of 3711 birds in 59 species were counted. This includes some wetland birds as well. The most common species here were 1707 Red-billed Queleas, 530 Four-banded Sandgrouse, 262 Turtle Doves, 185 Cattle Egrets, 106 White-throated Bee-eaters, 102 Spur-winged Geese and 116 Grey-headed Sparrows. Also found were 10 Woodchat Shrikes, 9 Hoopoes, 9 Bonelli’s Warblers, 7 Ring-necked Parakeets, 6 Common Whitethroats, 6 Spotted Flycatchers, 3 Egyptian Vultures, 3 Northern Wheatears and 2 Melodious Warblers. The next count is planned for this month (February).

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Twelve years of site support at Oursi

A BirdLife International press release from 29 January 2010 reports on 12 years of work of the site support group, the Cambridgeshire Bird Club partner club, at Lake Oursi. Read more about what the site support group has been doing and what they have achieved, with strong support from NATURAMA, the BirdLife partner organisation in Burkina Faso: http://www.birdlife.org/news/news/2010/01/lake_oursi.html

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Migrant ringing at Oursi, November 2009

By Rosemary Setchfield

I joined the RSPB team working on the ‘Migrants in Africa’ project in Burkina Faso in November, providing support for the ringing operations. The project, jointly run by RSPB and BTO with support from Naturama and the Ghana Wildlife Society, operates transect surveys in parallel with ringing sessions at five sites from Oursi in northern Burkina Faso southwards to the coast of Ghana. The aim of the project is to understand how Palearctic-African migrants use and move around the different vegetation zones found in West Africa.


A round of ringing and surveys had previously taken place at Oursi in October, and I arrived in time to join the second round in the second half of November. Rains had stopped, being well into the dry season, and nights were starting to get cooler. We had four main sites for the ‘protocol’ ringing, and performed extra-curricular ringing activities when opportunities arose. Western Bonelli’s warbler was the most commonly caught European migrant during November (32 birds), followed by olivaceous wabler (15) and common whitethroat (14). Eight yellow wagtails were caught during two extra ringing sessions on the lake edge prior to evening roost. The number of turtle doves surveyed on transects crashed from 150 to 17 between October and November, although we still managed to ring seven in November. Smaller numbers of the following migrants were caught and ringed: subalpine warbler, common redstart, woodchat shrike, rufous scrub robin, northern wheatear, western orphean warbler, wryneck, European hoopoe, chiffchaff, black-eared wheatear and masked shrike. The only migrants recorded during transect surveys that were not captured during ringing sessions were one willow warbler, two barn swallows and one Montagu’s harrier. During November, just over 25% of all birds caught in Oursi were migrant species, compared with 2% at Nazinga, the southern study site in Burkina Faso.

The project is still in its early days, and the precise protocol is still being refined. Oursi appears to have been the most important of all five study sites for migrant numbers and range of species during October and November. It is interesting to note there was almost no overlap in the range of species caught and ringed in Oursi compared to elsewhere, melodious warbler being the exception. In comparison, the predominant species captured in Ghana were pied flycatcher and willow warbler, along with a few garden warblers and nightingales.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Cambs Bird Club Supports Bird Monitoring at Oursi

With support from a number of donors, NATURAMA (Fondation des Amis de la Nature, BirdLife partner in Burkina Faso) has implemented a comprehensive programme of bird monitoring at Oursi for some time (see previous postings for results) but funding has now come to an end. The Council of the Cambridgeshire Bird Club has decided to bridge the gap in funding with a donation of £1,000, which will enable NATURAMA and the local Site Support Group to continue with bird monitoring while long-term solutions to funding are being sought.

Please also check out the BTO/RSPB project Out of Africa, which involves a suite of projects investigating the decline in numbers of our summer migrants. Field work is being conducted, among other sites in Western Africa, at Lake Oursi; see the BTO Out of Africa Appeal.
Migrant Birds in Africa contains a report with recent sightings and ringing results from Oursi.